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What is SAMHSA?

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is the US federal agency tasked with advancing the cause of our country’s behavioral health, both in policy and in practice. It was established in July of 1992 following the renaming and restructuring of ADAMHA, the Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Administration. ADAMHA had been in place since 1973. This change, like those before it, reflected more than a simple re-branding. It incorporated ongoing progress and innovation within the field, with previous incarnations having included NIMH (est. 1968) and the Division of Mental Hygiene (est. 1930), among several others. In SAMHSA’s turn, there was a shift in focus from traditional psychoanalysis to more modern behavioral therapies, which was strongly associated with the growing recognition of substance use disorder as a disease.

The chief administrative position in SAMHSA is that of Assistant Secretary. However, the organization is cooperatively administered, with the office of Assistant Secretary being supported by two teams: one of Directors, and one of Regional Administrators. The administration’s Directors oversee specific aspects of the organization’s management, such as communications or budgeting, at the federal level. Regional Administrators connect the function of the Assistant Secretary’s federal office with the specific needs and issues of smaller regions throughout the country. SAMHSA has been praised by medical experts for its transparency, as well as for the degree to which it incorporates a wide range of feedback from professionals working in the substance use recovery and mental health fields.

Leadership and Ongoing Initiatives

substance use recovery in San DiegoThe current Assistant Secretary of SAMHSA is Dr. Elinore F. McCance-Katz, who has held the position since its inception. Dr. McCance-Katz is a graduate of the UCONN School of Medicine, with a PhD from Yale University, where her work as a graduate student led her to specialize in infectious disease epidemiology. Her expertise in this area has contributed substantially to the public’s education on the nature of addiction as an infectious disease, and has greatly advanced the scientific study of how behavioral patterns spread and multiply in much the same way as viral organisms. A board-certified clinical and addiction psychiatrist, Dr. McCance-Katz has been extensively published in such areas as drug interactions among opioids. She actively promotes safe practices and high operational standards for medication-assisted treatment programs, or MATs.

SAMHSA’s ongoing initiatives are largely focused on a two-pronged approach to fighting substance addiction: public education, and data-gathering. Through educating the public, SAMHSA can help people recognize when they or their loved ones might be facing the challenges of an addiction. It also allows for an increase in the awareness of what recovery services are, where they are, and how they work, which significantly bolsters informed decision-making on the parts of people who might otherwise not know where to turn. Meanwhile, by gathering a wide range of both regional and national-level data, then making that data available to medical professionals and recovery services providers, the administration allows for more refined, efficient and effective substance use recovery programs. This kind of thinking is directly responsible for the current emphasis on mindfulness-based relapse prevention, gender-responsive programming (including treatment plans which recognize women’s needs) and self-determined, needs-based treatment.

West Coast Recovery Centers Proudly Supports SAMHSA

sober living facility for womenFrom local advisory councils to progressive interagency activities, SAMHSA’s policies incorporate mindfulness, self-determination and needs-based treatment to a far greater extent than those of its predecessor organizations did. West Coast Recovery Centers, which maintains facilities throughout the greater San Diego area, proudly maintains SAMHSA’s standards for quality client care at every level of treatment. WCRC’s dedication to self-determined lasting recovery includes a wide range of both traditional and holistic treatment modalities, all of which reflect the sincere effort to accommodate each and every individual’s unique personal needs. For more information, or if you or a loved one are in need of assistance, contact West Coast Recovery Centers today at 855-927-2687.

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