The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or SAMHSA, treats addiction by providing access to information and resources, advocating the use of evidence-based practices, and developing strategic initiatives to strengthen addiction treatment services. The agency also provides leadership to help communities in the United States improve behavioral health, treatment, and prevention efforts.
Although SAMHSA does not offer hands-on treatment at a central location, it provides access to helpful information that makes it easier for people to learn about addiction and reach out for help. This establishes building blocks for communities across the nation to implement effective substance abuse treatment and prevention services.
What Is SAMHSA?
SAMHSA is a government agency within the Department of Health and Human Services. The agency was established by Congress in 1992 and serves Americans struggling with addiction and mental illness through strategic initiatives and policy development.
The goal of the agency is to lead coordinated efforts to strengthen the public and behavioral health of the country, with a mission to reduce the negative impact of substance abuse and mental illness on communities, families, and individuals.
SAMHSA’s website supports the mission to serve people struggling with addiction by providing easy access to:
- health and wellness information
- news, events, and educational activities related to the treatment of addiction and mental health
- resources for prevention, treatment, and recovery
CSAP And CSAT
The Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP) and the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) work alongside organizations across the country to develop effective substance abuse prevention strategies and to promote treatment and recovery services for individuals and their families.
Between the two centers, SAMHSA hopes to:
- close the gap between available treatment capacity and demand
- encourage supportive workplaces and schools
- improve positive connections with friends and family
- improve substance abuse treatment organizations and systems
- support or develop evidence-based practices through community-based programs and services
- sustain crime-free and drug-free neighborhoods
This is done by providing national leadership to help encourage and develop policies, programs, and services to prevent and treat substance abuse in all its forms (addictions to alcohol, illicit drugs, prescription medications, etc.).
SAMHSA Encourages Evidence-Based Treatments
SAMHSA encourages people with addiction to participate in evidence-based treatments like behavioral therapy, medication-assisted treatment, and other recovery support services. Evidence-based treatments are highly researched and have shown to produce positive outcomes.
SAMHSA funds various grants and initiatives to help researchers uncover the most effective ways to treat addiction. The agency also funds the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP), which promotes scientifically established addiction treatment to help the public learn about evidence-based programs. NREPP’s research and data are submitted by healthcare professionals and addiction specialists across the United States.
SAMHSA’s Strategic Initiatives
To be successful in its mission, SAMHSA develops various strategic initiatives to help communities and healthcare providers meet the needs of people suffering from substance use and mental health disorders.
When it comes to addiction, SAMHSA uses strategic initiatives to:
- address the prevention of substance abuse
- increase access to effective treatment
- increase awareness and understanding of substance use disorders (SUD)
- promote emotional health and wellness
- support recovery
SAMHSA hopes these initiatives can achieve multiple goals. From building public awareness about the importance of behavioral health to helping states and local communities establish evidence-based therapies and treatments, SAMHSA’s initiatives are the backbone of promoting change to better treat addiction in the United States.
SAMHSA’s Current Initiatives
Prevention of Substance Abuse and Mental Illness: SAMHSA focuses on reducing the impact of substance use disorders on high-risk populations by implementing and promoting prevention and early intervention strategies. Population groups include transition-age youth, college students, American Indians, ethnic minorities, service members/veterans and their families, and LGBTQIA individuals.
Health Care and Health Systems Integration: This initiative aims to ensure high-quality addiction services are integrated into the broader healthcare system. The goal is to make treatment and recovery services more accessible.
Trauma And Justice: SAMHSA addresses addiction and the mental health needs of people involved in criminal and juvenile justice systems. This initiative also provides a comprehensive health approach for addressing trauma within addiction and mental health treatment.
Recovery Support: The goal of SAMHSA is to partner with individuals in recovery from addiction. People in recovery can help guide the behavioral health system to increase housing and recovery support, reduce barriers to life goals, and secure social supports within communities.
Health Information Technology: SAMHSA encourages the use of health systems technology to support and improve integrated care, which is essential for treating co-occurring disorders (when a person suffers from addiction and mental illness). These technologies can also help with effective prevention and wellness strategies.
Workforce Development: To monitor the needs of youth, young adults, and adults suffering from addiction, this initiative supports increasing the supply of trained substance abuse preventionists, healthcare workers, and other professionals uniquely qualified to address behavioral health and substance abuse issues nationwide.
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SAMHSA Helps You Find Treatment
One of the most important ways SAMHSA helps treat addiction is by connecting Americans to available supports and services. SAMHSA’s website not only provides a wealth of information on the countless topics surrounding addiction but also offers multiple resources to connect individuals with the appropriate level of care that will work best for them.
SAMHSA helps connect people to treatment providers with the following tools:
- Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator: This treatment locator helps people with addiction locate supports in their area or location of choice. Simply enter a city, state, or zip code and find listings for treatment and services.
- Buprenorphine Physician and Treatment Locator: With opioid addictions on the rise, SAMHSA provides information to help people connect with local physicians and treatment programs authorized to use buprenorphine, an effective medication used to treat opioid dependence.
- Opioid Treatment Program Directory: A state-by-state directory to help people connect with various programs that are approved to supply medications to treat opioid addiction.
- SAMHSA’s National Hotline: This is also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service. It provides free and confidential referral information for substance use disorder (SUD) treatment and prevention, and is available 24/7.