The White House announced last week a new drug control policy that awards $22 million in grants to tackle substance abuse treatment and crime.
Dubbed Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT), the grant program will provide Iowa, Arizona, and New Jersey up to $7.5 million over 5 years to screen and treat people with substance abuse disorders in different primary care settings and emergency rooms. The three states were chosen through a competitive grant process. The program will be enforced in areas with high numbers of low-income people and traditionally underinsured who receive care at federally qualified health centers and other clinics.
At a press conference, Pamela Hyde, administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, said “We know that prevention works, treatment helps, and people get better.”
Officials have been alarmed by the growing trend of substance abuse in the country, especially the skyrocketing cases of people misusing prescription medications. Even more alarming is the fact that many drug users are not getting the treatment they need to overcome their addiction, as well as other health problems related to drug use.
The core principle of SBIRT is to integrate mental and physical health screening and treatment. Patients who test for abusing substances will be given brief counseling, consisting mostly of a 5-to-10-minute educational talk. Law enforcement leaders expressed full support to the policy and are even leading the way. “This program represents the future of drug control policy in our nation,” said Gil Kerlikowske, director of the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy.