Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Weekly

Volume 24 Number 2
January 9, 2012
Pages 4-5

More reflections from readers: Hopes and fears for 2012

We asked field leaders to send in their reflections on last year and their hopes and fears for this year. We printed some in last week’s issue and will print the balance in next week’s issue.

“I’m grateful for a season of reflection and anticipation. Services for prevention, treatment, and recovery are essential to individuals, families, and our communities. Health care and parity legislation has opened doors to opportunities offering hope for improved services and cost-based reimbursements, including appropriate salaries for our well-educated and skilled workforce. Change also brings fears associated with transition and implementation. Much more advocacy is needed as states begin to develop their plans. We must be vigilant to ensure that the goals of the original legislation don’t disappear in a flurry of regulations based on shortsighted budgets instead of overall savings to healthcare and the wellness of our citizens.”
— Becky Vaughn, CEO, State Associations of Addiction Services

“I remain thankful that drug policy continues to remain a non-partisan issue. Despite the divisions we have seen in Congress over the past year, Democrats and Republicans continue to work together on substance abuse issues that are important. My hope is that in 2012 we’ll continue to make progress in addressing the nation’s prescription drug epidemic in such a bipartisan way. I also predict that the recovery community will become stronger than ever, helping to lift the stigma of addiction and encourage more Americans to get the help they need to free themselves from the misery of addiction.”
— Rafael Lemaitre, spokesman, Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP)

“Right now many substance use disorder (SUD) treatment providers are not participating in health information exchanges (HIEs) due to their fears about the privacy and security of their clinical data as it relates to 42 CFR part 2. I would consider it a huge achievement if by the middle of 2012 we have a SUD treatment provider electronically connected to an HIE, with a functioning electronic consent management system that is deemed 42 CFR Part 2 compliant by SAMSHA so that other providers and other HIEs feel comfortable using that approach.”
— Kevin Scalia, executive vice president, Netsmart

“With the enormous economic and political challenges facing the nation, our field successfully maintained its core funding for fiscal year 2012. This was accomplished by all of us working together to ensure that the substance abuse prevention and treatment programs in SAMHSA were preserved. CADCA also worked to ensure that the Drug- Free Communities program was funded at the highest possible level. Going forward, our entire field needs to be more data- and outcome-driven and strongly advocate for the entire continuum of care -- from prevention through recovery support.”
— Sue Thau, Community Anti- Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA)

“2012 will be the year of decision. From the Supreme Court to the local treatment facilities and communities, decisions will be made. States, local government and managed care will play the directional roles. Resources, workforce development and community values will dictate within hard realities and limits. Providers will need to affiliate for efficiency and choose to be part of the growing generalist opportunity or remain in specialty care —both will survive. More people will be served, but demand will still exceed capacity and public health models will grow. Progress will be determined by improved access. But will we measure improved wellness and recovery? That would be evolution.”
— Michael Flaherty, Ph.D., Founder, Institute for Research, Education and Training in Addictions (IRETA)

“As CEO of the country’s largest substance abuse treatment provider, I’ve been most excited that my objective to help people is coming true. We treat 30,000 every day and the overwhelming majority live better as a result. At the same time, I’ve been saddened to see firsthand that the “treatment gap” is very real – as SAMHSA reports, over 23 million people need but do not receive alcohol or drug treatment. Neither we at CRC nor the entire field combined is more than the tip of the iceberg in reaching people who need professional help. We will keep innovating (as an example, we are aggressively incorporating Vivitrol as a monthly treatment option for opiate addiction) to draw more people to our programs. But clearly denial, access, and stigma all must be addressed to reach the millions of individuals and families in need.”
— Andy Eckert, CEO, CRC Health Group

“It seems to me that the message attacks on the field are getting worse from all sides — by the NIMBY advocates, the legalizers, and the media emphasizing a few selected bad outcomes instead of the overwhelming successes. We have to counter the NIMBYs with the fact that drug treatment reduces crime locally and regionally. We need to defuse the legalizers (and their state referenda) by emphasizing the chaos and increased drug usage that would occur. We still have enormous work to do to remove biases against methadone and other medical approaches proven to work, and have to get the word out that these reduce addiction and restore productivity. And when media headlines a bad outcome-case, we all need to write and speak out about the overwhelming number of lives that treatment saves in a difficult population.”
— Robert Weiner, former spokesman, White House ONDCP and U.S. House Narcotics Committee; president, Robert Weiner Associates Public Affairs