HHS $28 Million Grant Funding: What’s Next for SUD Treatment?


Psychiatric Times® Substance Use Section Editor Roueen Rafeyan, MD, DFAPA, FASAM, weighs in.

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Ed. The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced on February 6 the launch of 2 grant programs through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) intended to expand substance use disorder (SUD) treatment services. What does this mean for the future of SUD treatment? Psychiatric Times® Substance Use Section Editor Roueen Rafeyan, MD, DFAPA, FASAM, weighs in.

It is nice to have the support of the Biden-Harris Administration in recognizing the tremendous need for SUD treatment and mental health services. Our patients with SUD also have high psychiatric comorbidities. It is never sufficient to treat one disorder and overlook the other. We need resources; our patients need access to resources.

Grants provide the opportunity for many of us to create or expand on our resources to help those seeking treatment. This grant also helps with addressing mental health issues and providing treatment to patients involved in our legal system due to SUDs.

Let us not forget the old saying: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” We know treatment works and saves lives. However, we all need to invest in prevention before the disease becomes deadly. We need to educate the public, we need to educate our youth, and we need to prevent access and use.

I am personally grateful that this grant also recognizes the need for treatment for pregnant patients with SUDs—another area with scarce resources and expertise.

Let us keep in mind that alcohol and SUDs cost around $500 billion a year. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDS) has an annual budget of $1 billion a year. The numbers are high, but it is not hard to see the disproportion and to feel the weakness against the $500 billion giant.

Any amount dedicated to fighting this battle is better than none—however, we need more. Twenty-eight million dollars is just not enough, but it is a start. Those of us in the trenches appreciate any help we can get to continue saving lives.

Dr Rafeyan is chief medical officer of the Gateway Foundation and an assistant professor of psychiatry at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, Illinois.

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