The National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors released its policy brief looking at the impact disasters have on substance use Tuesday.
Titled “Disasters and Substance Use: Implications for the Response to COVID-19”, the brief includes data on recent disasters and policy recommendations. The brief also looks at Louisiana’s response to Hurricane Katrina and New York’s response to 9/11.
Studies have shown that traumatic events can significantly impact the nation’s publicly funded substance use prevention, treatment, and recovery system.
Disasters, such as COVID-`19, can eliminate service capacity and/or increase demand elsewhere as a result of people being displaced. An analysis by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) found that the terrorist attacks of September 11th impacted the system by increasing the intensity and need for service intervention for those currently involved in substance use prevention and treatment; increasing a return to services for those who previously had received substance use services, and increasing the misuse of alcohol, tobacco and other prescription and non-prescription medications in the aftermath of the attack by people who may not have misused these substances previously.
After studying the issue, NASADAD had several recommendations, including:
• The federal government should coordinate with state alcohol and drug agencies due to the link between trauma and substance use disorders;
• Policymakers should consider specifically referencing substance use disorder in the statute governing disaster declarations to ensure a comprehensive response;
• Federal funding designed to help respond to substance use disorder needs to be routed through the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant program to provide maximum flexibility of use for those funds.