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Health Department Officials to Receive Training in Key Substance Abuse Prevention Program

Thursday, August 15, 2013 | 10:42am

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) will provide training in a key substance abuse prevention program to staff of the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) later this month in Putnam County.

TDMHSAS subject-matter experts will lead a pilot training session on Aug. 20 in the Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) program to members of the TDH leadership team, including Lisa Bumbalough, Putnam County Director; Leslie Humphreys, TDH Assistant Commissioner of Community Health Services; Debbie Johnson, TDH Regional Director for the Upper Cumberland Region; and Michael Warren, MD, MPH, Director of TDH Family Health and Wellness.

“Early intervention is proven to lower the unhealthy use of drugs and alcohol,” said TDMHSAS Commissioner Douglas Varney. “Reduced use can help strengthen relationships with families and friends, improve job performance, impact physical health conditions such as high blood pressure and obesity, and has the potential to reduce human suffering related to addiction.”

“We asked for this training to explore expanding the evidence-based SBIRT model to our local health departments because it is a good opportunity to reinforce protective health behaviors or identify and address risky behaviors,” said TDH Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH. “This proven clinical tool improves a variety of outcomes, including reducing hazardous behavior such as substance abuse and misuse.”

The training, which will take place at the Putnam County Health Department in Cookeville, will be an overview of the SBIRT process and will include information related to lessons learned from other implementation sites. If a person needs clinical treatment services, the New Leaf Program at Volunteer Behavioral Health in Cookeville has said that it is able available to provide the service. 

Through a grant from the federal Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the TDMHSAS currently funds SBIRT implementation at East Tennessee State University clinics in Bristol, Johnson City, and Kingsport; the Meharry School of Medicine at the Metropolitan Nashville General Hospital Clinic; United Neighborhood Health Services in Madison; and the Tennessee National Guard at the Smyrna Volunteer Training Center.

SBIRT is an evidenced-based strategy that provides a method for primary-care providers to detect and intervene in their patient’s risky/unhealthy use of alcohol and other substances. The fundamental processes of SBIRT are:

  • Screening: A prescreen question that is universal and simple as part of the standard medical intake process. For alcohol, the question for men is: “How many times in the past year have you had five or more drinks in one day?” and the question for women is, “How many times in the past year have you had four or more drinks in one day?” For drug use, the question is: “How many times in the past 12 months have you used a recreational drug or a prescription medication other than how it was prescribed?”
  • Brief Intervention: Time-limited, structured, proven research procedures for working with individuals with at-risk use and abuse behaviors.
  • Brief Treatment: Up to 12 sessions; these include the monitoring of individuals who misuse alcohol and other drugs but are not yet dependent.
  • Referral to Treatment: A process that facilitates access to care for patients who are determined during screening to be at high-risk for substance use problems. These patients are linked to substance abuse or mental health treatment agencies for formal diagnosis and possible treatment.

Following the pilot program, TDH intends to expand the service statewide. The training session is not open to the public.

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