LAC: Washington Roundup

Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Subcommittee on Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Holds Hearing on Providing Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Services to Adolescents

This week, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee’s Subcommittee on Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services held a hearing on providing substance abuse prevention and treatment services to adolescents. Senator Mike DeWine (R-OH), Chair of the Subcommittee and Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) were in attendance.

The panelists included: Charles G. Curie, Administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA); Ronald P. Anton, Director of Maine’s Day One Juvenile Justice and Community Programs and State Associations of Addiction Services (SAAS) member; Sandra A. Brown, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, University of California, San Diego; Roger Weissberg, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, University of Illinois at Chicago; Rhonda Ramsey-Molina, President and CEO of the Coalition for a Drug-Free Greater Cincinnati; and Kris Shipley, on behalf of Second Genesis Residential Treatment Program in Maryland and Therapeutic Communities of America.

Senator DeWine (R-OH) started the hearing by expressing his concern with the lack of services for youth returning to the community from the juvenile justice system, including the lack of drug treatment services. Senator DeWine asked how research is translated into the field as best practices and what initiatives are underway to ensure the workforce quality of the adult and adolescent treatment field. Administrator Curie agreed with the extent of the problem of adolescent substance abuse and the need to improve access to treatment for young people. Mr. Curie explained the SAMHSA programs that are targeted at preventing substance abuse in adolescents and that provide treatment for adolescent substance abuse. These programs include the Strategic Prevention Framework, a program to provide grants to states for community-based substance abuse prevention programs aimed at young people and a number of programs administered by the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment that are targeted toward adolescents. In response to the quality of the workforce, Mr. Curie discussed the resources available through the Federal training centers and their partnerships with universities to provide ongoing certification and training. Senator Reed (D-RI) asked whether funds granted through the Access to Recovery Program could be used for adolescent drug treatment. Mr. Curie explained that states could shape their voucher program to target special populations, including adolescents.

Mr. Anton, Director of Maine’s Day One Juvenile Justice and Community Programs testified about adolescent substance abuse treatment in Maine and the success of Day One’s Juvenile Treatment Network. The Network is a coordinated effort throughout the state that identifies, screens and refers adolescents with substance abuse issues to state approved treatment providers of their choice. Mr. Anton testified that Day One’s approach is based on research and other “best-practices” in prevention and treatment services to youth.

Dr. Brown, of the University of California, San Diego and Dr. Weissberg, of the University of Illinois at Chicago, both testified about the importance of continuing research efforts to determine how to best prevent and treat substance abuse in adolescents. Dr. Brown testified about recent research supported by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) that found that addiction disorders often begin in adolescence. Dr. Brown testified on the importance of early intervention in preventing many of the consequences of substance abuse and in enabling youth to be treated for substance abuse before problems become more advanced. Dr. Weissberg testified specifically about how to utilize adolescent substance abuse prevention research to make school-based prevention efforts more effective.

Ms. Ramsey-Molina, President and CEO of the Coalition for a Drug-Free Greater Cincinnati, testified about the power of community-based coalitions to reduce adolescent substance abuse. Mr. Kris Shipley testified about his experiences as a young person who was addicted to drugs and alcohol and about his recovery from addiction. He urged the Subcommittee members to continue funding for substance abuse prevention and treatment services directed at young people.