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News and Notes   |    
News Briefs
Psychiatric Services 2009; doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.60.1.132
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SAMHSA white paper on suicide and substance abuse: Suicide is responsible for the deaths of more than 32,000 Americans each year and an estimated $11.8 billion in lost income. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has released a white paper, Substance Abuse and Suicide Prevention: Evidence and Implications, that underlines the substantial role of alcohol and drug abuse as a risk factor for suicide and suicide attempts. The 43-page paper provides an overview of advances over the past decade in understanding the complex interactions of multiple factors that lead to suicide and the best ways to intervene among those at risk. Recent research has focused on the impact of substance abuse on suicide risk—particularly when an individual also has another mental illness. The white paper summarizes epidemiologic data on suicide and reviews the literature on the link between substance abuse and suicide. It describes evidence-based practices and programs that have been shown to lower suicide risk in special populations. The white paper is available on the SAMHSA Web site at www.samhsa.gov.

Inventory of cost-offset studies for substance abuse treatment: Cost-offset studies make the "business case" for substance abuse treatment, and their results can be highly persuasive in efforts to gain funding from legislators. Research has shown that providing substance abuse treatment results in savings—largely in the criminal justice system—that range from four to ten times the cost of the treatment itself. A detailed PowerPoint presentation created by the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors (NASADAD) describes methods and key features of well-designed cost-offset research in substance abuse treatment and lists citations for major studies over the past ten years. Seventeen states have conducted such studies or have begun to do so. The slides present recent data from several states, including bullet points of the savings realized for every dollar spent on treatment—$9.43 in Texas, $4.29 in Utah, $8.43 in South Dakota, and $5.60 in Oregon. The slide presentation is available on the NASADAD Web site at www.nasadad.org.

Five million people participate in self-help groups each year: An annual average of five million persons aged 12 and older attended a self-help group in the past year because of their use of alcohol or illicit drugs: 45% attended because of their alcohol use only, 22% attended because of their illicit drug use only, and 33% attended because of their use of both alcohol and illicit drugs. The data also indicate that 45% of past-year self-help group participants—or 2.3 million individuals—were able to abstain from use of these substances in the past month. These findings are presented in a report, Participation in Self-Help Groups for Alcohol and Illicit Drug Use: 2006 and 2007, which is based on data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), an annual survey of 67,500 respondents. The data also indicated that 33% of those who attended a self-help group during the past year also received specialty treatment for substance abuse in the past year. The report is available on the Web site of SAMHSA's Office of Applied Studies at drugabusestatistics.samhsa.gov.

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