Four panelists, moderator Paul Samuels, of the Legal Action Center, and presenters A. Thomas McLellan of the Treatment Research Institute (TRI), H. Westley Clark of SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, and Michael Botticelliof the President’s Office of National Drug Control Policy, discussed the integration of substance-use treatment, or the lack thereof, in the current health system.
As veterans of the effort to bring substance-use treatment to parity with mental health and health issues, they joked about how “diabetics don’t get 30 days of treatment and a diploma” and they agreed that substance-use disorders are finally being regarded as chronic life-long illnesses that deserve the same kinds of care as other such illnesses. Large numbers of substance-use treatment and policy professionals attended this year’s National Council conference.
Where have we been? Why have clinical social workers been largely missing from the front lines of treatment? It’s not too late for us to collaborate with other professionals and to get knowledgeable about the current state of substance-use treatment, dual-diagnosis issues, and early assessment tools (SBIRT). Schools of Social Work need to weave diagnosis and treatment into the master’s curriculum, and agencies need to offer substance-use-related training in supervised settings. This work represents a huge new frontier for clinical social workers, with untold practice opportunities (click here to see ACSWA’s efforts in this arena).