The Treatment Research Institute (TRI) released on Sept. 13 a white paper outlining the successes and challenges faced by model programs aimed at integrating substance abuse services into primary care. The institute believes the paper can serve as a much-needed “roadmap” for new integration projects across the country.
The report, entitled “Integrating Substance Use Services into Health Care Settings: An Issue Brief on Lessons Learned and Challenges Ahead,” summarizes the results of the 2010 Forum on Integration, a conference hosted by TRI in April.
Funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the conference brought together leaders of integration initiatives from across the country to describe their programs, summarize the challenges they faced, and offer solutions to those challenges.
The conference identified four prevailing themes: the need for more widespread screening and intervention in general practice, the “creative use” of existing staff to implement integration programs, the barrier presented by lack of financing for such programs, and the success of existing programs for diverse patient populations.
“[The] lack of connection and communication between specialty and general health care professionals who treat patients with substance use conditions unnecessarily impairs the health of individuals, populations, and whole communities,” said TRI in the report.
“Real world experience has shown that substance abuse treatment services can be successfully integrated into medical and other care settings.”