Addiction is a manageable but chronic disease, just like diabetes or asthma. Because it is a chronic, relapsing disease, treatment should not be viewed as a way to “cure” a young person. Instead, look at treatment as a first step in helping an adolescent manage his alcohol or other drug dependence. For young people, successful treatment is complete abstinence from all addictive substances, as well as sustained improvement in emotional, physical, and mental well-being and social functioning.
DAODAS recognizes that women have long been closing the gender gap with regard to their use of alcohol and other drugs. In fact, studies show that women are now drinking, smoking, and using other drugs at approximately the same rates as their male counterparts. Unfortunately, however, there are women who do not seek treatment, primarily out of fear: fear of what others might say; fear of prosecution; fear of losing their children; fear of losing their jobs; and fear of losing the support of their families. For these reasons, DAODAS provides a variety of services to reach women, ranging from prevention services that educate the community to residential treatment services for those who are experiencing a greater level of need. Many of our local agencies provide services that are designed exclusively for women, and all of the local providers give priority admission to pregnant women.
Substance abuse and HIV/AIDS have been described as linked epidemics. Behavior associated with drug abuse is the largest factor in the spread of HIV in the United States. Injection drug use and unsafe sexual practices with multiple partners or with known injection drug users resulting from alcohol and other drug use are leading causes of HIV infection. Evidence also suggests that alcohol and other drug use may suppress the immune system, making people who use these substances more prone to HIV infection.
Assessment processes for all clients entering substance use disorder treatment and intervention services in the DAODAS system include a screening for behavioral risks and symptoms associated with communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, sexually transmitted diseases, and tuberculosis. DAODAS funds 16 providers across the state to provide HIV early intervention services.
Trauma is pervasive and touches many aspects of life; between 55% and 90% of individuals have experienced at least one traumatic event in a lifetime. Many individuals who have experienced trauma in the past experience mental health disorders, problems associated with substance use, suicidal ideations, and other interpersonal struggles not always connected to trauma.
All DAODAS-funded providers offer a comprehensive clinical assessment that addresses trauma. The providers’ adolescent programs are specifically directed to use a standard assessment tool to which additional trauma questions have been incorporated. When trauma is identified during the screening and assessment process, it is treated, monitored, or referred for further services. To date, all of the women-specific programs in the DAODAS system are required to provide an evidence-based trauma curriculum.