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SAMHSA project will explore community-based services to military families

May 26, 2011
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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Analysis will lead to white paper of recommendations

For a variety of reasons, many members of the military and their families end up pursuing substance use treatment services outside the military healthcare system.
A research project to be overseen by a policy support organization under the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will analyze the circumstances that bring military families to community-based providers, with the goal of offering a clearer picture of how best to assist these individuals. SAMHSA’s Partners for Recovery entity, housed in the federal agency’s Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT), is seeking to identify eight treatment agencies that will proceed to collect intake data on military clients over a 90-day period.

Working with the national group State Associations of Addiction Services (SAAS), Partners for Recovery is seeking to include in its study cohort at least two recovery support organizations, one residential facility and one outpatient facility, says Partners for Recovery project coordinator Shannon Taitt.

“We know there is a different military culture that we haven’t really explored,” says Taitt. “Is the civilian provider equipped to serve the needs of military families?”

Several of the selected treatment organizations for this project will be located in close proximity to large military populations, says Taitt. The overall selection process is still under way; centers with an interest in participating are invited to contact Taitt via e-mail at

At the end of the data collection period, a report with recommendations to SAMHSA will be completed; Taitt says it is hoped that the document will be finalized later this year.

Taitt says that even those treatment centers that are likely serving a substantial number of military families probably are not fully aware of the reasons why these individuals are arriving at their doors (for example, whether career-related concerns, benefits issues or other obstacles are at the heart of some families’ desire not to pursue services through the military health system).

“We’re not sure if provider agencies are collecting that type of data,” she says.

Partners for Recovery is a policy support vehicle designed to identify and respond rapidly to emerging community needs. SAAS is one of several stakeholder groups serving as a partner in the Partners for Recovery effort.