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VA Faces Challenges in Providing Substance Use Disorder Services and Is Taking Steps to Improve These Services for Veterans
Randall B. Williamson (au)
Veterans Admin. (VA) officials and providers face challenges related to providing Substance Use Disorder (SUD) services to veterans who have or are at risk for SUDs in three areas -- providing access to SUD services, meeting the specific treatment needs of veterans with SUDs, and assessing the effectiveness of SUD treatments. This report discusses VA's efforts to address these challenges, which include: (1) Efforts to increase veterans' access to its SUD services -- VA is in the process of establishing additional intensive outpatient programs at VA facilities. VA is also hiring SUD specialists to work in non-SUD settings, including non-SUD residential rehabilitation treatment programs and community-based outpatient clinics. (2) Efforts to promote the use of evidence-based SUD treatments -- VA is requiring facilities to make certain evidence-based SUD treatments, such as cognitive behavioral therapy for relapse prevention, available to veterans. In addition, VA has implemented training for physicians on the use of pharmacotherapies as part of veterans' SUD treatment. (3) Efforts to assess SUD services and monitor treatment effectiveness -- VA is assessing the progress that VA medical centers are making toward implementing the requirements listed in the Handbook related to SUD services. VA is also testing a new data collection tool -- the Brief Addiction Monitor -- that could be used to monitor treatment effectiveness at the individual patient and VA medical center levels. Figures.
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