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System Notice: 09-30-0036 1

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Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Epidemiologic Data (HHS/SAMHSA/OA)




Records are located at facilities which collect or provide service evaluations for this system under contract to the agency. Contractors may include, but are not limited to, research centers, clinics, hospitals, universities, research foundations, national associations, and coordinating centers. Records may also be located at the Office of Applied Studies, the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, and the Center for Mental Health Services. A current list of sites is available by writing to the appropriate System Manager at the address below.


Individuals who are the subjects of epidemiologic, methodologic, services evaluations, and longitudinal studies and surveys of mental health and alcohol and drug use/abuse and mental, alcohol, and/or drug abuse disorders. These individuals are selected as representative of the general adult and/or child population or of special groups. Special groups include, but are not limited to, normal individuals serving as controls; clients referred for or receiving medical, mental health, and alcohol and/or drug abuse related treatment and prevention services; providers of services; demographic sub-groups as applicable, such as age, sex, ethnicity, race, occupation, geographic location; and groups exposed to hypothesized risks, such as relatives of individuals who have experienced mental health and/or alcohol, and/or drug abuse disorders, life stresses, or have previous history of mental, alcohol, and/or drug abuse related illness.


The system contains data about the individual as relevant to a particular study. Examples include, but are not limited to, items about the health/mental health and/or alcohol or drug consumption patterns of the individual; demographic data; social security numbers (voluntary); past and present life experiences; personality characteristics; social functioning; utilization of health/mental health, alcohol, and/or drug abuse services; family history; physiological measures; and characteristics and activities of health/mental health; alcohol abuse, and/or drug abuse care providers.


SAMHSA: Public Health Service Act, Section 301 (42 U.S.C. 241), 322 (42 U.S.C. 249(c)), 501 (42 U.S.C. 290aa), 502 (42 U.S.C. 290aa-2), and 505 (42 U.S.C. 290aa-4). CSAP: Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, Section 515-18 (42 U.S.C. 290bb-21 et. seq.). CSAT: Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, Section 507-12 (42 U.S.C. 290bb et. seq.). CMHS: Center for Mental Health Services, Sections 506 (42. U.S.C. 290aa-5) and 520-35 (42 U.S.C. 290bb-31 et. seq.). Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness Act of 1980, Section 501(c) (8 U.S.C. 1522 note), P.L. 96-422; Executive Order 12341; and Disaster Relief Act of 1974, Section 416 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, P.L. 100-107.


The purpose of the system of records is to collect and maintain a data base for health services evaluation activities of the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, and the Center for Mental Health Services. Analyses of these data involve groups of individuals with given characteristics and do not refer to special individuals. The generation of information and statistical analyses will ultimately lead to a better description and understanding of mental, alcohol, and/or drug abuse disorders, their diagnosis, treatment and prevention, and the promotion of good physical and mental health.


  1. A record may be disclosed for an evaluation purpose, when the Department:
    1. has determined that the use or disclosure does not violate legal or policy limitations under which the record was provided, collected, or obtained; e.g., disclosure of alcohol or drug abuse patient records will be made only in accordance with 42 U.S.C. 290 (dd-2).
    2. has determined that the study purpose (1) cannot be reasonably accomplished unless the record is provided in individually identifiable form, and (2) warrants the risk to the privacy of the individual that additional exposure of the record might bring;
    3. has required the recipient to--(1) establish reasonable administrative, technical, and physical safeguards to prevent unauthorized use or disclosure of the record, and (2) remove or destroy the information that identifies the individual at the earliest time at which removal or destruction can be accomplished consistent with the purpose of the health services evaluation project, unless the recipient has presented adequate justification of an analytical or health nature for retaining such information, and (3) make no further use or disclosure of the record except--(A) in emergency circumstances affecting the health or safety of any individual, (B) for use in another health services research or evaluation project, under these same conditions, and with written authorization of the Department, (C) for disclosure to a properly identified person for the purpose of an audit related to the evaluation project, if information that would enable study subjects to be identified is removed or destroyed at the earliest opportunity consistent with the purpose of the audit, or (D) when required by law; and
    4. has secured a written statement attesting to the recipient's understanding of, and willingness to abide by, these provisions.
  2. Disclosure may be made to a congressional office from the record of an individual in response to a verified inquiry from a congressional office made at the written request of that individual.
  3. In the event of litigation, where the defendant is (a) the Department, any component of the Department, or any employee of the Department in his or her official capacity; (b) the United States where the Department determines that the claim, if successful, is likely to directly affect the operations of the Department or any of its components; or (c) any Department employee in his or her individual capacity where the Justice Department has agreed to represent such employee; the Department may disclose such records as it deems desirable or necessary to the Department of Justice to enable that Department to present an effective defense, provided such disclosure is compatible with the purpose for which the records were collected (e.g., disclosure may be made to the Department of Justice or other appropriate Federal agencies in defending claims against the United States when the claim is based upon an individual's mental or physical condition and is alleged to have arisen because of the individual's participation in activities of a Federal Government supported research project).
  4. The Department contemplates that it will contract with a private firm for the purpose of collecting, analyzing, aggregating, or otherwise refining records in this system. Relevant records will be disclosed to such contractor. The contractor shall be required to maintain Privacy Act safeguards with respect to such records.
  5. To appropriate federal agencies and Department contractors that have a need to know the information for the purpose of assisting the Department’s efforts to respond to a suspected or confirmed breach of the security or confidentiality of information maintained in this system of records, and the information disclosed is relevant and necessary for that assistance.



Records may be stored on index cards, file folders, computer tapes and disks, microfiche, microfilm, and audio and video tapes. Normally, the factual data, with study code numbers, are stored on computer tape or disk, while the key to personal identifiers is stored separately, without factual data, in paper files.


During data collection stages and follow up, if any, retrieval by personal identifier (e.g., name, social security number (in some studies), or medical record number), is necessary. During the data analysis stage, data are normally retrieved by the variables of interest (e.g., diagnosis, age, occupation).


  1. Authorized Users: Access to identifiers and to link files is strictly limited to those authorized personnel whose duties require such access. Procedures for determining authorized access to identified data are established as appropriate for each location. Personnel, including contractor personnel, who may be so authorized include those directly involved in data collection and in the design of research studies, e.g., interviewers and interviewer supervisors; project managers; and statisticians involved in designing sampling plans.
  2. Physical Safeguards: Records are stored in locked rooms, locked file cabinets, and/or secured computer facilities. Personal identifiers and link files are separated as much as possible and stored in locked files. Computer data access is limited through the use of key words known only to authorized personnel.
  3. Procedural Safeguards: Collection and maintenance of data is consistent with legislation and regulations in the protection of human subjects, informed consent, confidentiality, and confidentiality specific to drug and alcohol abuse patients where these apply. When a SAMHSA component or a contractor provides anonymous data to research scientists for analysis, study numbers which can be matched to personal identifiers will be eliminated, scrambled, or replaced by the agency or contractor with random numbers which cannot be matched. Contractors who maintain records in this system are instructed to make no further disclosure of the records. Privacy Act requirements are specifically included in contracts for survey and research activities related to this system. The HHS project directors, contract officers, and project officers oversee compliance with these requirements.
  4. Implementation Guidelines: DHHS Chapter 45-13 of the General Administration Manual and Part 6, "Automated Information Systems Security" of the HHS Information Resources Management Manual.


Records may be retired to the Washington National Records Center located at 4205 Suitland Road, Suitland, MD, 20409, and subsequently disposed of in accordance with the SAMHSA Records Control Schedule. The records control schedule and disposal standard for these records may be obtained by writing to the appropriate System Manager at the address below.


Office of the Director
Office of Applied Studies
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
5600 Fishers Lane
Rockville, Maryland 20857

Office of the Director
Center for Substance Abuse Prevention
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
5600 Fishers Lane
Rockville, Maryland 20857

Office of the Director
Center for Substance Abuse Treatment
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
5600 Fishers Lane
Rockville, Maryland 20857

Office of the Director
Center for Mental Health Services
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
5600 Fishers Lane
Rockville, Maryland 20857


To determine if a record exists, write to the appropriate System Manager at the address above. Provide individual's name; current address; date of birth; date, place and nature of participation in specific evaluation study; name of individual or organization administering the study (if known); name or description of the study (if known); address at the time of participation; and a notarized statement by two witnesses attesting to the individual's identity.


Same as notification procedures. Requesters should also reasonably specify the record contents being sought. An individual may also request an accounting of disclosures of his/her record, if any.

An individual who requests notification of, or access to, a medical record shall, at the time the request is made, designate in writing a responsible representative who will be willing to review the record and inform the subject individual of its contents at the representative's discretion.

A parent or guardian who requests notification of, or access to, a child's or incompetent person's medical record shall designate a family physician or other health professional (other than a family member) to whom the record, if any, will be sent. The parent or guardian must verify relationship to the child or incompetent person as well as his or her own identity.


Contact the appropriate official at the address specified under System Manager(s) above and reasonably identify the record, specify the information being contested, and state corrective action sought, with supporting information to show how the record is inaccurate, incomplete, untimely, or irrelevant.


The system contains information obtained directly from the subject individual by interview (face-to-face or telephone), by written questionnaire, or by other tests, recording devices or observations, consistent with legislation and regulation regarding informed consent and protection of human subjects. Information is also obtained from other sources, such as health, mental health, alcohol, and/or drug abuse care providers; relatives; guardians; and clinical medical research records.



  1. Published in the Federal Register, Vol. 75, No. 97, Thursday, May 20, 2010 (pages 28264-28275)
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