gov't grant universities fight against drug use disorders

Earlier this month, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced a grant valued at nearly $77.2 million to help various universities nationwide promote earlier treatment for substance use disorders over several years.

“The aim is really to expand the capacity of the primary care workforce to begin addressing alcohol and other drug issues with their patients,” said Reed Forman, team leader for the Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) program at the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment within SAMHSA.

The funding will specifically be used by universities across the country to develop and implement SBIRT programs in their respective communities. These programs provide a comprehensive, integrated, public health approach to delivering early intervention and treatment services for individuals with substance use disorders and those in danger of developing drug-related disorders.

The grant will bolster the continuum of care by using SBIRT, which is an evidence-based practice and has been found to prevent problematic and dependent abuse of alcohol and illicit drugs.

Screening tools are made available if a patient is at risk for substance abuse behaviors, brief interventions engage a patient engaging in risky, substance use behaviors, and referral to treatment gives brief therapy or additional treatment to patients who are candidates for additional services.

SBIRT also assists healthcare workers in primary care centers, hospital emergency rooms, trauma centers, and other community settings. This approach better identifies the underlying signs of substance use and provides early opportunities for intervention against those vulnerable to substance abuse disorders.

Many patients won’t seek immediate substance abuse treatment, but they will seek medical services, Forman said. “It becomes really important for a primary care setting or a medical service provision setting to begin asking all their patients about the nature of their use of alcohol and other drugs.”

The most difficult part of implementing a successful SBIRT program is “training individuals to have a non-judgmental, non-stigmatizing, motivational interviewing approach to interacting with patients,” Forman said. “So, we’re expecting them to… (continue reading)