Cline Addresses Mental Health and Substance Abuse

By Clayton, Susan L. | Corrections Today, April 2008 | Go to article overview

Cline Addresses Mental Health and Substance Abuse


Clayton, Susan L., Corrections Today


Terry Cline, Ph.D., administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) addressed ACA's Healthcare Professional Interest Section (H-PIS) members about the importance of prevention and treatment of mental and substance abuse disorders. "As President Bush said, 'America is the land of the second chance and when the gates of the prison open, the path ahead should lead to a better life,'" Cline said. He noted that in helping those heading for a better life, SAMHSA and ACA share the tremendous responsibility of improving both public health and public safety, many times serving the same population.

Cline stressed that mental health and substance abuse disorders should be treated with the same urgency as any other health condition. He noted that there are a tremendous number of individuals in jails and prisons with mental health and substance abuse disorders. In fact, he said, 80 percent of those incarcerated have a substance abuse problem.

SAMHSA created a Matrix of Priorities, which Cline shared with attendees. It provides a graphic representation of the collaboration needed to promote holistic, integrated approaches that advance the health and well-being of individuals, families and communities. The matrix focuses the work of SAMHSA by aligning policy, program and resource allocation with priority areas and management principles. Criminal and juvenile justice is one of the priority areas. Creating relationships and partnerships is a primary goal of the various priorities. "We only create change through those partnerships," Cline said.

Cline stressed that people need to be given the chance to attain and sustain recovery. In other words, they need the support to recover from addiction and mental illnesses. Often, these individuals face the revolving door, cycling in and out of prison. "We now have a much better chance of closing that door," Cline said, noting that addiction and mental illness are treatable and that prevention and treatment are the keys to success. According to Cline, when these services are targeted to adult and juvenile offenders the benefits are threefold: 1) Addiction and drug-related crime decrease; 2) Recidivism rates drop with early intervention and appropriate treatment service placement; and 3) Reentry in the community is a success and public safety is bolstered from increased recovery support services.

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"We have for too long seen mental health and substance abuse services as being separate" Cline said. "Those days are behind us and the future is ahead of us and that includes embracing a public health approach to addressing these diseases." A public health approach, according to Cline, promotes health and prevents illness. It involves moving "upstream" as well as "downstream." "While we need to move downstream to rescue drowning individuals we also must move upstream individuals we also must move upstream to try to keep individuals from falling in the river in the first place," Cline said.

Cline noted that trends of decreasing drug use among young people have continued from 2001-2007. "In terms of the general population this is very good news," Cline said. Use of any illicit drug has dropped 24 percent since 2001. Marijuana use has decreased 25 percent, and the use of methamphetamines has decreased 64 percent. Use of alcohol has decreased by 15 percent, and cigarette smoking has decreased 33 percent.

However, much work remains, said Cline. …

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