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Sandy's Support for Increasing Advocacy for Psychologists' Contribution to Substance Abuse Prevention, Treatment, and Research
August 29, 2018
Substance abuse problems extract a huge toll on society. The CDC reported 63,600 drug overdose deaths in just 2016. These problems do not get the national attention they deserve, except occasionally, where consequences are so apparent, they demand response. Opiate use is currently such an example and provides psychology with both a significant and unique opportunity to contribute. Psychologists bring science-based expertise, behavioral non-pharmacological intervention options and a bio-psycho-social perspective, thus enabling targeted and respectful treatment for specific populations and multicultural context.
Additionally, significant numbers of psychologists are involved in substance use disorder prevention, treatment and research. The APA publishes two journals, and many addiction-related articles appear in other journals. Established evidence-based treatments for substance use disorders and addictive behaviors were developed by psychologists and based on psychological rationales (see Division 12, https://www.div12.org/treatments/ and https://div12.org/psychological-treatments/). Unfortunately, practitioners underuse these treatments. APA should increase advocacy for use of psychological treatments and strongly encourage training and continuing education on substance use disorders and treatment approaches.
Substance use disorders, extremely prevalent, are often associated with other behavior disorders. Such prevalence suggests a need for required graduate coursework on both substance use disorders and dual diagnosis as part of clinical/counseling psychology training programs.