A national program based at the University of Wisconsin is getting addicts into treatment faster and for longer, pleasing treatment centers interested in improving the humanistic side of their approach to treatment.

Called the Network for the Improvement of Addiction Treatment, the program removes some of the stress involved in entering a treatment program by making it easier to be placed and moving paperwork to later in the process, according to director and UW engineering professor David Gustafson.

He said the program was implemented after he received a grant from the federal government and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

“They were interested in it because there was a concern that people were not getting the care that they needed in addiction treatment and more than that, that it was very hard for them to stay in treatment long enough for it to make a difference,” Gustafson said.

NIATx has already been implemented at more than 900 treatment centers around the country, where directors are already noting a difference.

Norman Briggs, director of addiction services at the Madison organization ARC Community Services, said the center has seen a noticeable improvement since it joined the program about four years ago.

“[Before joining NIATx], we saw a little more than a third of the women initially who were going through our intake process … actually get into treatment,” Briggs said. “The rest just dropped off. They didn’t want to be a part of that.”

He said by allowing people to fill out paperwork after entering the program, they doubled the number of people who made it from their initial appointment to actually receiving treatment.

“It’s ‘how we can help them’ instead of ‘here are the papers you need to fill out in order to be admitted for services,’” Briggs said. “It is much more human. It is much less of a processing of people and much more of an engagement of people in the counseling.”

Gustafson said the next step for the program is to expand to more clinics. He hopes to implement practices in at least half of the 2000 large centers located in the U.S.