Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

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Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), an operating division of the Health and Human Services Department (HHS), was established in 1992 by the Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration Reorganization Act (Pub. L. No. 102-321). SAMHSA provides national leadership in the prevention and treatment of addictive and mental disorders, through programs and services for individuals who suffer from these disorders. SAMSHA works in partnership with states, communities, and private organizations in order to provide treatment and rehabilitative services to affected persons. In fiscal year 2002 the agency's budget was over three billion dollars. SAMSHA employs about 550 staff members.

Within SAMHSA are several major centers designated to carry out its purposes. The Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP) develops and implements federal policy for the prevention of alcohol and drug abuse, and analyzes the effect of other federal, state, and local programs also designed to prevent such abuse. CSAP administers and operates grant programs for the prevention of alcohol and drug abuse among specific populations, such as high-risk youth and women with dependent children, and in particular settings, including schools and the workplace. CSAP also supports training for health professionals working in alcohol and drug abuse education and prevention.

The Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) provides national leadership in developing and administering programs focusing on the treatment of substance abuse. CSAT works with states, local communities, and healthcare providers by providing financial assistance to improve and expand programs for treating substance abuse. CSAT, like CSAP, also focuses on specific populations by administering and evaluating grant programs like the Comprehensive Residential Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, which treats women who abuse substances, and their children, and helps to train healthcare providers working in substance abuse prevention.

The Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) promotes, on the federal level, the prevention and treatment of mental disorders, by identifying national mental health goals and developing strategies to meet them. CMHS works to improve the quality of programs that serve both the individuals suffering from these disorders and their families. Like other component centers carrying out the goals of SAMHSA, CMHS administers grants and programs that help states and local governments provide mental healthcare and services. CMHS also works with the alcohol, drug abuse, and mental health institutes of the National Institutes of Health, the principal biomedical research agency of the federal government, in researching the effective delivery of mental health services.

The Office of Management, Planning, and Communications (OMPC) is responsible for the financial and administrative management of SAMHSA components, including their personnel management and computer support functions. OMPC also monitors and analyzes pending legislation affecting SAMHSA components and acts as a liaison between SAMHSA and congressional committees. In addition, OMPC oversees the public affairs activities of SAMHSA, including public relations and interaction with the media to facilitate coverage of SAMHSA programs and objectives. Finally, OMPC collects and compiles alcohol and drug abuse prevention and treatment literature and supports the CSAP National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information. The clearing-house then disseminates its materials to state and local governments, healthcare and drug treatment programs, healthcare professionals, and the general public.

Over the years SAMSHA has identified new topics and activities that build on prevention goals and systems of care for persons dealing with mental illness, substance use or abuse. SAMSHA research has provided the basis for numerous initiatives regarding communitybased prevention, identification, and treatment programs. Despite these efforts SAMSHA issued a press release in January 2003 indicating that prescription drug abuse by teenagers and young adults was continuing to increase.

Further readings

Erickson, Patricia, ed. 1997. Harm Reduction: A New Direction for Drug Policies and Programs. Toronto: Toronto Univ. Press.

Gray, James P. 2001. Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed and What We Can Do About It: A Judicial Indictment of the War on Drugs. Philadelphia: Temple Univ. Press.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Available online at <www.samhsa.gov> (accessed August 13, 2003).

Cross-references

Addict; Drugs and Narcotics.

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gov or write to SAMHSA c/o NREPP Notice 1, Choke Cherry Rd.
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