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 26 total results.
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.

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.

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 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, alcoholism (https://www.integration.samhsa.gov/clinical-practice/screening-tools). The 10-item AUDIT is intended to be administered by a health professional or paraprofessional.

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.

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. Possible issues described in the article include substance use disorder, including alcohol use disorder; posttraumatic stress disorder; and suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

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.

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 misuse 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.

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 misuse 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health

This journal article explores the issues that occur when opioid substitution treatment (OST) is disrupted by a disaster. Through interviews with health professionals and emergency managers it identifies the elements that should be included in OST preparedness planning for a disaster or other emergency.

National Child Traumatic Stress Network, National Center for Child Traumatic Stress (NCTSN, NCCTS)

Part of the Psychological First Aid (PFA) Field Operations Guide, this handout provides information that disaster survivors can use to avoid increased use of alcohol and misuse of prescription medications and other drugs after a disaster. It also provides tips for survivors to avoid relapse after a disaster.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (HHS, SAMHSA)

This manual provides guidance for prescribers, administrators, and program managers in pharmacological treatment of people with co-occurring posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and opioid use disorder. Guidelines are presented in the order in which a health care practitioner is likely to proceed through them while working with a person with co-occurring PTSD and opioid use disorder. The manual also provides links to information about psychosocial interventions.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (HHS, SAMHSA)

This tip sheet provides recommendations for disaster relief physicians who care for survivors taking prescription opioids for relief of chronic pain.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (HHS, SAMHSA)

People who have substance use disorders may also have mental health problems or mental illnesses. Through this website, people can locate mental health treatment facilities and programs, as well as substance misuse treatment facilities and programs, health care centers, and buprenorphine physicians. It provides a map and allows site visitors to search for treatment facilities by county, state, or ZIP code.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (HHS, SAMHSA)

This website provides information on SBIRT, which it describes as "a comprehensive, integrated, public health approach to the delivery of early intervention and treatment services for persons with substance use disorders, as well as those who are at risk of developing these disorders." The site identifies codes for reimbursement and provides links to related resources.

seekingsafety.org

This website provides information on Seeking Safety therapy, which helps people with trauma, posttraumatic stress disorder, and substance misuse. It provides information on Seeking Safety trainings; adherence scale assessments; and articles on Seeking Safety, trauma, and substance misuse.

Elevation Behavioral Health

This article explores increased substance abuse among survivors of natural disasters. It discusses risk factors for substance use disorders, such as prior mental illness, poverty, and proximity to the natural disaster. It also offers strategies on healthy ways to cope with stress.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (HHS, SAMHSA)

Part of SAMHSA's Technical Assistance Publication (TAP) series, this handbook provides programs that treat people with mental and substance use disorders with information and tools for disaster planning. It explains the rationale for planning and presents an overview of planning process; offers guidance in constituting a disaster planning team; addresses key topics for behavioral health treatment programs; and covers how to test, activate, and deactivate the plan.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (HHS, SAMHSA)

In this brochure, SAMHSA provides guidance for people who have gone through detox and are moving through treatment for an alcohol or substance use disorder. It offers tips to help people get through the first month of not using their substance of addiction, manage cravings and add activities to their lives to replace addiction, and develop a plan for long-term recovery.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (HHS, SAMHSA)

This fact sheet offers information for disaster responders to help them identify signs of substance use among their peers. It describes physical and emotional, social and behavioral, and mental signs of possible substance misuse. The fact sheet also presents tips for responders seeking help for themselves and for those who want to reach out to a friend or coworker they think may be having substance use issues.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Drug Abuse (HHS, NIH, NIDA)

In this online fact sheet, NIDA defines and describes drug addiction, identifies goals and important elements of treatment, and explains how medications and therapies are used in treatment. Treatment of people with drug addiction in the criminal justice system is also discussed.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (HHS, SAMHSA)

This manual provides guidelines to help substance misuse treatment counselors work with suicidal adult clients. It includes risk factors and warning signs for suicide, core counselor competencies, clinical vignettes, and information for administrators and clinical supervisors.

Last Updated: 01/15/2018