As part of a new drug control policy that eschews decades of a war-on-drugs philosophy in favor of increased prevention and treatment, the Obama administration Wednesday unveiled a new program designed to help detect substance abuse before addiction develops
Administration officials announced $22 million in Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) grants that will be sent to three states: Arizona, New Jersey and Iowa.
Gil Kerlikowske, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy - the administration's so-called 'drug czar' and a former Seattle police chief, made the announcement with Pamela Hyde, administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and Daniel Alford, medical director for the Massachusetts Screening, Brief Intervention, Referral and Treatment Program, which received SBIRT grants from 2007 to 2012.
All three emphasized that the goal of the grants is to shift drug control efforts away from a law enforcement-heavy approach and toward one that aims to identify potential substance abuse in patients before they become full-blown disorders.
"We want to identify problems that are lurking and might be going unaddressed," Hyde told reporters in a conference call. "High-risk patients are referred to specialty care, but there are others that can achieve treatment earlier."
"As with any disease, early identification is key to prevention and treatment," Kerlikowske said, adding that early treatment can also relieve strains on the criminal justice system and improve public health."
The program would work by establishing SBIRT centers in a variety of inpatient and outpatient medical clinics as well as non-traditional locales such as tribal areas and military bases.
Patients that are determined to be potential risks would be given a short, 10-minute interview to evaluate the possibility of future substance abuse problems. The interviews would avoid a lecture-style or judgmental approach, the officials said.
"It's about challenging the paradigm, not dividing the world into two groups," Alford said. "There's a group in the middle that we can intervene with."
Hyde said the centers would be based in five counties in northern Arizona with lower-than-average income rates; four federally qualified health centers across Iowa as well as Camp Dodge, home to the state's National Guard; and a clinic in Trenton, N.J.
States were selected based on a competitive process by which states sent proposals that were independently reviewed, Hyde said. Regulation would be based on audits and requests for data.
by RTT Staff Writer
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