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The National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers was formed in 1978 by industry leaders and organizations that had been at the forefront of addiction service since the 1940s. 

NAATP’s history has paralleled the evolution of the addiction treatment profession. NAATP’s origins are traced to the early years following the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).

In 1944, Ms. Marty Mann, a pioneer of AA, founded the National Committee for Education on Alcoholism (NCEA) in the belief that she and NCEA could change the way America viewed alcoholism and the alcoholic. Mann and a generation of recovery advocates and visionary professionals spent the next decade laying the foundation for modern addiction treatment.

Addiction Treatment Attitudes Change

The 1970s witnessed enormous changes in attitudes and policies towards addiction treatment. The newly formed National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the National Institute on Drug Abuse were channeling federal dollars for the first time to local communities to support addiction treatment.

Insurance companies were beginning to expand insurance coverage for alcoholism treatment. The number of public and private treatment programs exploded, and the professions of addiction medicine and addiction counseling were poised to come of age.

Addiction's Famous Face

It was a heady time in the field, as noted persons from all walks of life publicly declared their recovery from alcoholism. Those stepping forward to put a face on alcoholism recovery included astronaut “Buzz” Aldrin, actor Dick Van Dyke, and Congressman Wilbur Mills.

Two years later, First Lady Betty Ford announced her treatment and recovery from dependence on alcohol and other drugs.

Founding NAATP Board Member Len Baltzer, describes the initial needs that formed NAATP:

We needed an association because we were all shooting in the dark at this time. All of us were in recovery and had some education on the counseling side of things, but none of us had any business background whatsoever.

For years, I didn’t even know it was a business. I just thought we were doing this altruistically. I knew we had to make some money, but that was not the goal. The goal was just to get people into recovery. - Len Baltzer

NAATP is Born

In September 1976 and early 1977, over a dozen program directors came together in California to discuss the possibility of establishing an association of private non-profit alcoholism programs. These early meetings generated a formal proposal in January 1978 to form the National Association for Alcoholism Treatment Programs (NAATP).

Before NAATP, there was no organization or association representing the interests of private sector addiction treatment providers, especially in the area of uniform insurance benefits. By 1982, NAATP was financially independent.

Managed Care Changes Treatment

The NAATP community and addiction care generally was dealt a blow and changed forever in the 1990s with the advent of “managed care.” Resources for addiction treatment dwindled dramatically. At this point, NAATP entered a new era as a leader of a profession that would need its services more than ever.

NAATP answered the bell and redoubled its efforts in the areas of resources for member operations and policy advocacy. NAATP survived managed care, as did a changed field, and even thrived as an association relied upon by its members working to provide best-practice care in a challenging economic environment. 


NAATP entered its current era in 2014 when the NAATP Board of Directors, responsible for the macro-management of the association, completed an association checkup and determined it was time for change.

NAATP logo

As the industry environment was again changing with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Mental Health Parity Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA), growing private investment in addiction care, treatment model and health care system integration, and concerns about ethical marketing and treatment methods, the Board determined it was time for a change and the installation of a new strategic plan and staff.

marvin ventrell

In 2015, the Board installed Marvin Ventrell as the association’s fourth Executive Director and moved NAATP headquarters to Denver. Colorado. The new Director was charged with assessing NAATP’s effectiveness and submitting a plan for the future. Following months of inventory and industry environment research, a plan was approved confirming NAATP’s mission and vision, and defining clear association objectives. Staff and Board then went to work to secure NAATP’s foundation and begin delivery of objectives with renewed clarity and energy. By the Spring of 2016, NAATP stood financially and programmatically secure with an active and growing membership, and engaged and influential Board of Directors, and a strong, sophisticated, and effective staff.

Read NAATP’s 2019-2021 Strategic Plan

The current iteration of the strategic plan renews our commitment to the mission, vision, values, goals, and objectives of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP) for the three-year period 2019 through 2021. The plan reflects the NAATP belief that our association’s role is to provide values-based vision, leadership, services, and advocacy for a professional field that is evolving in terms of clinical method and business structure, fragmented, and in need of guidance.

NAATP Provides Strong Leadership

There is no other national organization that can represent the treatment provider industry with such a strong and unified voice. NAATP plays a unique and essential leadership role and continues to address the addiction by influencing:

  • Access to addiction treatment
  • Delivery of addiction treatment
  • Recognition of best service delivery practices in addiction treatment
  • Recognition of ethical practices in addiction care marketing and service delivery
  • Dissemination of addiction treatment information to the industry and the public
  • Education and training
  • Public policy advocacy
  • Addiction industry unity, collaboration, and information sharing

Learn About NAATP’s Values