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

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Last Updated: 01/15/2018