The University of Arizona

$1.2 Million Grant Supports Substance Abuse Treatment Research

By Diana Hunter, October 26, 2000

The UA recently received a $1.2 million grant that will go toward promoting effective methods of treating substance abuse disorders.

The School of Public Administration and Policy in the University of Arizona's Eller College of Business and Public Administration recently received the grant from the Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Center for Substance Abuse Treatment.

The grant will also strengthen the ability of Arizona treatment providers to continue research and use research findings.

A 1998 report by the Institute of Medicine noted the severe gap between current knowledge of what works in treating substance abuse problems and what actually occurs in treatment settings. Additionally, there are tremendous barriers to accessing substance abuse treatment. The societal severity of this problem is evident in recent reports that indicate that more than 18 million Americans currently experience addiction problems with a resulting public cost of over $276 billion per year in lost wages, health care costs, and criminal justice costs.

With the funding for this initiative, the University of Arizona has launched the Arizona Substance Abuse Consortium for Knowledge Exchange and Research, a statewide effort designed to bring together substance abuse treatment agencies, people with addiction problems, researchers, public agency representatives, and other stakeholders to coordinate and strengthen the capacity and effectiveness of services statewide.

Christy Dye, Chief of the Bureau of Substance Abuse and General Mental Health at the Arizona Department of Behavioral Health Services, describes the Consortium as "an exciting opportunity to move beyond studying substance abuse for the sake of descriptive research into the arena of transforming care delivery with treatment customized to Arizona's population and need."

A key aspect of the University's initiative is its emphasis on training and the use of seed grants to local treatment agencies to assist them in evaluating the effectiveness of their programs. Dr. Michael Shafer, co-principal investigator for the Consortium with Dr. Jenny Chong, states that, "substance abuse treatment agencies need to acquire the tools and skills to ensure the use of treatment approaches that have proven to be effective. Furthermore, treatment agencies need to be able to evaluate the services they are already providing in terms of productiveness and cost-effectiveness."