Substance Use Disorders and Disasters

Substance use disorders are a growing issue among Americans today. A recent administration of SAMHSA's National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 20.2 million adults had experienced a substance use disorder in the past year. Furthermore, there is a strong link between substance use issues and the experience of a traumatic event, such as a disaster. In the past decade, we have experienced an increase in the number of disasters, both natural and human-caused, leading to an even greater risk of substance use issues in affected communities.

Populations that experience disasters and traumatic events are at higher risk of having a substance use disorder. Other vulnerable populations include people with lived experience of mental illness, communities underprepared for disasters, people with existing substance use disorders, and first responders.

This installment of the SAMHSA Disaster Behavioral Health Information Series (DBHIS) focuses on substance use disorders and how their prevention and treatment can be incorporated into disaster preparedness, response, and recovery. Resources address the following topics:

  • Information to help disaster responders address substance use and misuse concerns among survivors during and after disasters
  • General information about substance use disorders
  • Ways that community leaders, emergency management planners, and clinical service providers can help people with substance use disorders before, during, and after disasters
  • Substance use disorders among first responders

Use the menu bar at left to narrow the results by substance; treatment, prevention, or recovery topic; and more.

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Displaying 30 total results.
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Addressing suicidal thoughts and behaviors in substance abuse treatment - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (HHS, SAMHSA)
Developed with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, this SAMHSA video offers guidance to substance-misuse treatment counselors working with people with suicidal thoughts and behaviors. It covers risk factors, warning signs, and follow-up care. It includes case scenarios that demonstrate counseling techniques and a four-step process for addressing suicidal ideation.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1n2QZlheuzc&noredirect=1

Alcohol and drug use after a disaster or emergency - MyHealth.Alberta.ca
This webpage offers information on the risks of substance use after a disaster or other emergency. It also gives an overview of short- and long-term risks of substance use after a disaster. It offers tips for how to manage alcohol or drug use and signs that your substance use may have become a problem.
https://myhealth.alberta.ca/Alberta/Pages/alcohol-drug-use-after-disaster-emergency.aspx

Alcohol use disorders identification test (AUDIT) - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (HHS, SAMHSA)
The AUDIT was developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and, according to the SAMHSA-Health Resources and Services Administration Center for Integrated Health Solutions, correctly identifies 95 percent of people as having, or not having, alcohol use disorder (https://www.integration.samhsa.gov/clinical-practice/screening-tools). Consisting of 10 items, the AUDIT is intended to be administered by a health professional or paraprofessional.
https://www.integration.samhsa.gov/AUDIT_screener_for_alcohol.pdf

All hazards response planning for state substance abuse service systems - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (HHS, SAMHSA)
This guide provides recommendations for training, administrative tips, and considerations for working with populations with special needs when creating a disaster response plan for substance use disorder services.
http://cretscmhd.psych.ucla.edu/nola/Video/MHR/CSAT/preparedness/allHazardsResponsePlanningForState.pdf

Behavioral health issues among Afghanistan and Iraq U.S. war veterans - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (HHS, SAMHSA)
This article discusses behavioral health problems that affect veterans who have served in Afghanistan and Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom [HHS Publication No. SMA12-4670]. Possible issues described in the article include substance use disorder, including alcohol use disorder; posttraumatic stress disorder; and suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
https://store.samhsa.gov/product/Behavioral-Health-Issues-Among-Afghanistan-and-Iraq-U-S-War-Veterans/SMA12-4670

Buprenorphine treatment practitioner locator - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (HHS, SAMHSA)
This website provides an online resource locator that lists physicians who treat patients with opioid use disorder with buprenorphine (a semi-synthetic opioid used to treat narcotics use disorders). Site visitors can search for physicians authorized to provide medication-assisted treatment with buprenorphine by city, state, or ZIP code.
https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment/physician-program-data/treatment-physician-locator

CAGE questionnaire - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (HHS, SAMHSA)
This four-question survey can be used to screen for drug and alcohol use and to determine whether additional assessment is needed. This survey is popular with primary care physicians and can be used in the clinical setting as part of a general history.
https://www.integration.samhsa.gov/clinical-practice/sbirt/CAGE_questionaire.pdf

Disaster events and services for persons with co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorders - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (HHS, SAMHSA)
This tip sheet discusses the needs of people with co-occurring mental illness and substance use issues after a disaster. It also covers topics for people who interact and work with these populations. Those addressed include families and other concerned nonprofessionals, health care providers, and human service and other community providers.
http://cretscmhd.psych.ucla.edu/nola/Video/MHR/CSAT/outreach/04-COCEDisasterEventsText-SAMHSAapproved.pdf

Disasters and substance abuse/dependence - Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities
This webpage provides information on prevention and treatment of substance misuse during and immediately after a disaster. It also explains ways to prevent substance misuse and provides treatment information.
http://www.georgiadisaster.info/MentalHealth/substanceabuse.html

Disasters and substance abuse or dependence - U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, National Center for PTSD (VA, PTSD)
This webpage presents research findings on substance use or dependence following a disaster. The page shows rates of use of various substances after disasters and highlights research findings primarily related to post-disaster use and misuse of alcohol.
https://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/trauma/disaster-terrorism/disasters-substance-abuse.asp

Firefighter and first responder alcohol and drug issues part 1 - Clinical Psychology Associates of North Central Florida
This manual provides information about the prevalence of alcohol and drug use among first responders suffering from posttraumatic stress. It explores the link between occupational stress and use of drugs and alcohol, and it includes resources relating to the signs of alcohol and drug use, as well as resources for first responders who may be suffering.
http://cpancf.com/articles_files/Firstresponderfirefighteralcoholdrugs1.html

Let's talk facts about posttraumatic stress disorder - American Psychiatric Association
This brochure provides information regarding posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), including its definition, symptoms, and treatment options. It also identifies substance use disorders as potentially co-occurring with PTSD.
http://www.fcphp.usf.edu/courses/content/rfast/Resources/PTSD%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf

Matrix intensive outpatient treatment: Family education - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (HHS, SAMHSA)
These videos show interviews of people in recovery from stimulant use disorders and their families. They cover a range of topics, including families and recovery, triggers and cravings, and the roadmap for recovery for those with substance use disorders.
http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLA2A8260D89D626D9

MATx mobile app by SAMHSA - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (HHS, SAMHSA)
This mobile app is designed to help health care practitioners provide medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder. Compatible with iOS and Droid devices, MATx features steps to take to become a certified buprenorphine prescriber, information about medications used to treat opioid use disorder, and treatment locators.
https://store.samhsa.gov/product/MATx-Mobile-App-by-SAMHSA/PEP16-MATAPP

Medication-assisted treatment for substance use disorders: Opioid treatment program directory - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (HHS, SAMHSA)
This website provides an online directory of all opioid treatment programs (OTPs) certified by SAMHSA. Site visitors can search for OTPs by state.
http://dpt2.samhsa.gov/treatment/directory.aspx

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Last Updated: 01/15/2018