National Alliance on Mental Illness
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Four Public Hearings Planned To Seek Recommendations To Improve Substance Abuse Treatment

Chris Marshall
For Immediate Release
26 May 99

The Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has announced a new project to enhance the availability, accessibility and quality of substance abuse treatment services across the nation that is entitled "Changing the Conversation: The National Plan to Improve Substance Abuse Treatment." The program involves a series of stakeholder meetings and public hearings.

NAMI is concerned that the estimated 10 million Americans who have co-occurring mental and addictive disorders are not being effectively served by SAMHSA, the federal-government agency charged with administering services programs for these two populations. NAMI and other mental illness advocates are asking that states be allowed to blend mental health and substance abuse block grant funds for integrated treatment, that states should report how they have spent block grant funds for integrated treatment, and that SAMHSA's reporting requirements not prevent such blending of funds.

The CSAT initiative proposes a comprehensive analysis of five specific areas related to funding for and access to service delivery systems, public attitudes and beliefs, and best practices and treatment methods for addressing substance abuse and addictions.

Stakeholder meetings and public hearings will address five issue areas: closing the treatment gap; reducing stigma and changing attitudes; improving and strengthening treatment systems; connecting research and services; and addressing workforce issues. Information gathered and analyzed from these meetings will be used to guide program planning for CSAT.

The first public hearing is scheduled for July 8, from 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. at the Old State House in Hartford, CT. The other public hearings arranged by CSAT are to be held in Chicago, Illinois in September, Portland, OR in October and a yet to be announced city in Florida in November.


NAMI advocates are encouraged to attend these hearings, raise the issue of integrated treatment for persons with co-occurring disorders, and urge CSAT representatives to allow states to provide integrated treatment for people suffering from co-occurring mental and addictive disorders. For more information on how to attend the CSAT public hearings, please contact SAMHSA representatives Carol DeForce or Michele Westbrook at 301-443-5052. If you have any difficulties making contact or do not receive a response from SAMHSA, please contact Chris Marshall at the NAMI office,, or by phone at 703-524-7600.


At issue (please refer to NAMI E-News Vol. 99-111) is a proposal by the mental illness community that SAMHSA's two block grants (mental health and substance abuse) effectively and equitably co-finance integrated-treatment programs for persons with co-occurring disorders. This is known as "blended funding." Integrated treatment means mental illness and addictive disorders services and interventions are delivered simultaneously at the same treatment site, ideally with cross-trained staff. What is not considered integrated treatment is sequential treatment (treat one disorder first, then the other) or parallel treatment (in which two different treatment providers at separate locations use separate treatment plans to treat each condition separately but at the same time).