Training Substance Abuse Treatment Staff to Care for Co-Occurring Disorders

Published in: Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, v. 28, no. 3, Apr. 2005, p. 239-245

Posted on on December 31, 2004

by Sarah B. Hunter, Katherine E. Watkins, Suzanne L. Wenzel, James Gilmore, John Sheehe, Anne Reid Griffin

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Although co-occurring disorders have been associated with poorer substance abuse treatment outcomes and higher costs of care, few individuals with co-occurring disorders receive appropriate mental health care. This article describes the design and implementation of an intervention to improve the quality of mental health care provided in outpatient substance abuse treatment programs without requiring new treatment staff. The intervention focuses on individuals with affective and anxiety disorders and consists of three components: training and supervising staff, educating and activating clients, and linking with community resources. The authors evaluated three treatment programs (one intervention and two comparison) for the first component by having program staff complete both self-administered questionnaires and semistructured interviews. Staff knowledge and attitudes about co-occurring disorders, job satisfaction, and morale all indicated an improvement at the intervention relative to the comparison sites. The evaluation is still under way; results for implementation of the other two components and for outcomes will be reported later.

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