New collaboration targets addiction treatment as overdose deaths climb

Published October 22, 2021

Florida Blue (BCBS Florida) is tackling a crisis in addiction and drug overdose deaths with strategic partnerships that call for greater access, transparency and accountability among addiction treatment providers.


In 2020, the United States saw a 30% increase in the number of overdose deaths. According to CDC data, 93,331 lives were lost. The state of Florida also saw a dramatic increase totaling more than 5,700 deaths. That number ranks the state second behind California in overdose deaths.

The overdose crisis is rooted in drug addiction. The problem is made worse as the nation grapples with the on-going stress, anxiety and isolation fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic. Experts widely agree, that to slow the rate of overdose deaths, individuals and families need trusted resources to locate high quality addiction treatment and care.


Even before the 2020 overdose figures came into focus, Florida Blue was already front and center, launching a new partnership to improve treatment access for people with substance use disorders. This emphasis on access also includes a renewed focus on provider quality and transparency. Experts say those factors are critical to any person who has taken the important first step to seek professional help but lacks clarity on what successful treatment looks like. The partnership allows Florida Blue to extend its reach beyond the health Plan's membership and deliver on its commitment to increase access for all Floridians.

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"This initiative is a very bold effort to fundamentally transform how people seek, find and evaluate care for their own betterment, but also the betterment of others in a credible manner for all of the state,” says Nick Dewan, MD, Florida Blue vice president of behavioral health. “This is for everyone. We partner with innovative organizations to implement unique solutions for the community. It's transformative for the whole state,” he said.


The collaboration announced by Florida Blue and New Directions Behavioral Health, provides patients an easy-to-use database through Shatterproof - a national nonprofit organization focused on connecting people with quality addiction treatment and recovery programs. The partnership provides Floridians access to ATLAS ®, an easy-to-use database that highlights high-quality addiction treatment and recovery programs in the state. Furthermore, ATLAS® evaluates addiction treatment providers' use of evidence-based best practices. The partnership aims for a high level of transparency, allowing patients and families to search, compare treatment options based on location, types of services offered, insurance accepted. ATLAS® also allows patients to write public reviews about their experience following treatment.

Shatterproof - Addiction should be treated like a medical condition

"It's really about that soulful struggle that people are going through and we're talking thousands and thousands of individuals,” says Dr. Dewan. “This COVID-19 pandemic has done nothing but increase that burden significantly. Our collaboration with Shatterproof is about educating individuals about where they are… what to expect and more importantly, what kinds of help are considered the standard or best practice, so patients know they are going to a place that has the best possible treatment for their condition."

Following the collaboration announcement in the summer of 2021, Florida Blue and Shatterproof embarked on a 12-month implementation period to notify stakeholders, providers and the general public of the new addiction treatment platform. Look for updates heading into 2022 at

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Florida Blue is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.