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University of Iowa News Release

Sept. 26, 2003

UI Center Highlights National Alcohol, Drug Addiction Recovery Month

In 2002, 27,000 Iowans received treatment for abuse of alcohol or illicit drugs, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Yet nationally in 2001, 76 percent of people in need of treatment for a problem with substance use disorders did not seek or receive treatment, SAMHSA estimates.

September marks the 14th annual observance of National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month, an event designed to increase awareness of this important public health issue. The Prairielands Addiction Technology Transfer Center (ATTC), based in the University of Iowa College of Public Health, is taking part in the national campaign to highlight the strides made in substance abuse treatment, and to educate the public that addiction is a chronic, but treatable, public health problem.

"Drug and alcohol abuse and addiction have devastating health and societal consequences. Substance abuse is the root cause of a myriad of health problems - it causes tens of thousands of deaths each year, and untreated addiction takes an enormous economic toll - an estimated $294 billion annually," said Anne Helene Skinstad, Ph.D., UI assistant professor of community and behavioral health and program director of the Prairielands ATTC. "But it can be successfully treated. For this reason, the Recovery Month 2003 theme, 'Join the Voices for Recovery: Celebrating Health,' is especially appropriate. Recovery Month is a time to highlight the benefits of substance abuse treatment and encourage individuals with drug and alcohol problems to begin their journey of recovery."

This year, Recovery Month is spotlighting the need for coordinated mental health and substance abuse treatment services in the community. Among those most in need of effective, coordinated services are individuals who are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol and who may also have a co-occurring mental disorder or co-existing physical illness. Millions of people are in need of treatment for both substance abuse and mental disorders, but too often they are undiagnosed, misdiagnosed or they slip through the cracks entirely, such as those in the nation's homeless population.

Not only do people with co-occurring substance use and mental disorders need to be diagnosed, but both disorders must be treated because failure to do so almost assures an exacerbation of health problems. As SAMSHA's "2003 Report to Congress on the Prevention and Treatment of Co-occurring Substance Abuse Disorders and Mental Disorders" points out: "If one of the co-occurring disorders goes untreated, both usually get worse and additional complications often arise. The combination of disorders can result in poor response to traditional treatments, and increases the risk for other serious medical problems (e.g., HIV, hepatitis B and C, and cardiac and pulmonary diseases)."

The Prairielands ATTC is part of a nationwide network of 14 regional centers. Funded by SAMHSA, the Prairielands ATTC is dedicated to providing state-of-the-art trainings, curricula and resources on substance use issues for counselors, health care professionals and members of the community. Currently it serves the states of Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota. More information about the Prairielands ATTC can be found online at http://www.public-health.uiowa.edu/PATTC/.

STORY SOURCE: The University of Iowa College of Public Health Office of Communications, 4257 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242.

MEDIA CONTACT: Debra Venzke, 319-335-9647, debra-venzke@uiowa.edu.