Recognizing the Need for Substance Use Disorder Intervention

EKU Online > Recognizing the Need for Substance Use Disorder Intervention

Historically, the treatment of individuals with a substance use disorder (SUD) was left to a small group of professionals who specialized in addiction.  Unfortunately, that meant for someone to be treated they had to recognize in themselves the need for help and seek those professionals out. 

Know the Numbers

According to the National Institute of Health, it is estimated that approximately 10% of U.S. adults have a substance use disorder at some point in their lives.  Conversely, the American Medical Association estimates that 90% of those who need help for SUD never receive it.  This would seem to suggest that one of the primary issues faced by the U.S. health system is one of identification and referral.  Just as the need to educate primary care providers and other medical professionals to assess for suicidal ideation has been steadily building over recent years, the same need is now being recognized in reference to substance use. 

Build Awareness

In the past decade a major push has been made by institutions such as Eastern Kentucky University to provide education on SUD to students seeking entrance to a number of careers that place them on an intersecting course with individuals with substance abuse problems.  Whether they be psychologists, nurses, police officers, teachers or any of several other professions they now have a chance to learn more about substance use disorders, the people who have them, and the appropriate levels of care available.

Promote Understanding

EKU’s PSY 429 class, “Psychological Perspectives of Substance Abuse” is one of the opportunities the University is seizing to build SUD awareness and promote understanding.  It provides a broad-spectrum overview of the treatment of substance use disorders including the various theories related to why people use, screening and assessment for SUD, the various models of treatment, and even early intervention strategies to help intervene with individuals and communities at risk for SUD.  Classes like this help to prepare individuals entering the workforce in a variety of careers with the knowledge and tools to intervene and positively impact the lives of people needing help dealing with SUD.

By: Michael Haney, EKU Department of Psychology adjunct faculty

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