SAAS News - 8.2.2011

Language Matters. We hear this phrase often, usually when we are expressing our frustrations about someone else's choice of words, how words perpetuate the stigma that pervades our field, and the impact on the the ability of our patients to seek and access treatment services. We blame society, "uneducated" individuals and policymakers, funding discrepancies, and the list goes on. While those issues play an important role in prolonging the stigma affecting our patients, as a field we can exacerbate the problem with our own language and choice of words. Think about the inherent "secrecy" of what we do "behind the walls of treatment centers". Unlike other health conditions, we identify our services by where they are performed: Outpatient and Residential. In this age of transformation and integration with primary care, it is time to talk about the actual services we provide and demystify the important work we are doing across the country. It is time to explain to our constituents and stakeholders that treatment plans are based on a diagnosis and, like all health conditions, are managed in a variety of settings: some in an outpatient setting; others need an inpatient/non-hospital setting. Treatment plans for substance use disorders, like other chronic disease treatment plans, generally have an "estimated" timeframe and stages of treatment.


But it goes beyond how we talk about our services. Let's look at our "everyday" language including how we talk to our patients. Everyone suffering from a chronic disease struggles with noncompliance and setbacks in their treatment plans, but they are not treated as failures. Relapse is the term our field uses to define noncompliance in treatment-which for many is interpreted as failure-"you blew it, so now you have to start over". For those unfamiliar with the chronicity of substance use disorders-funders, policy makers, and the general public-this means treatment failed. Our patients and providers are measured by failure rates. We talk about "dirty" drug screens and people "bombing out" of treatment. Can you imagine a person with diabetes being told they had a "dirty" lab report because their blood sugar levels were dangerously high?


Recently there has been intense debate around the usage of the term "behavioral health". For various reasons many practitioners do not like the term. We know that in a perfect world, we should not need an "umbrella phrase" for two distinct disorders/diseases/conditions/problems-mental illness and substance use disorders. Most other chronic conditions stand on their own by definition without being grouped together. In reality, most chronic diseases require some level of behavioral change to manage the condition. Therefore, why are we not referring to these diseases under the umbrella of behavioral health? Regardless of one's personal viewpoint on the usage of the term "behavioral health", we cannot allow this debate to overshadow efforts to make an immediate day-to-day impact on the language in our own conversations with our staff and our patients. Consider the increased hope we could bring to individuals, families, and our communities if we began to change some of our own language and encourage our patients, former patients, and advocates to do the same.


We also cannot allow ourselves to become distracted from the critical issues and need for transformation facing our field. This is our opportunity as we integrate with primary care. We can move forward with language designed to give people respect, hope, and clarity about their disease. It is a low-cost strategy, but imagine the impact on the future.


Thank you


Becky Vaughn



2011 NIATx Summit and SAAS Annual Conference Wrap-up


Thank you to all of our members who attended the very successful 2011 NIATx Summit and SAAS Annual Conference in Boston this month. We received very positive feedback from the more than 700 people took part in an exciting and very timely event. Many of the presentations focused on building skills and capacities within organizations to meet the transformation requirements of healthcare reform. 


Conference Highlights


SAAS Leadership Award

Congratulations to John O'Brien, SAMHSA Senior Advisor on Health Care Reform, who was recognized by SAAS with the National Excellence in Leadership Award. This award recognizes an individual or organization exemplifying excellence in leadership through outstanding advocacy. We are pleased to recognize John as an outstanding leader who has worked diligently to educate the field and to assist organizations in preparing for health care reform. We appreciate the work John has done over the past year and look forward to our continued work with him in the coming months.


2011 iAward

SAAS and NIATx recognized six organizations from around the country as leaders in the field of behavioral healthcare for developing and implementing innovative approaches in management and process improvement with the second annual iAward. Sponsored by SAMHSA, the 2011 Innovation in Behavioral Healthcare Services Awards highlight innovations in process improvement and management practices that position an organization to meet the challenges of future service delivery.


This year's award recipients are:

  • Office-Based Opioid Treatment, Boston Medical Center, Boston, MA
  • 90-day Outpatient Treatment, Glide Health Services Recovery Program
  • Technology and communications, Kentucky River Community Care, Inc., Jackson, KY
  • Executive Change Team, Kentucky River Community Care, Inc., Jackson, KY
  • The 2010 Blue Book, New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, New York, NY
  • Avatar Assisted Therapy, Preferred Family Healthcare, Kirksville, MO

Honorable mention also went to the Innovative Music Program at The Healing Lodge of the Seven Nations, Spokane, WA.


You can find more information about these innovative programs at our website:


Look for the 2012 iAward application in January 2012.


If you attended the conference and have not completed the online evaluations, please do so at your earliest convenience. It will only take a few minutes to provide us with very valuable feedback that the conference planning committee can use to improve the exciting event in 2012.


Don't forget to download your CEU verification forms from the conference website. All CEU certificates will be mailed to those who need them once the verification form has been completed.


All workshop and spotlight sessions are available at If you missed a plenary session or would like to see it again, you can purchase access to all of the plenary presentations. Check out the plenary descriptions and decide which sessions you want to view again and again to be sure you caught every important moment.  


IF YOU HAVEN'T HEARD! Save the date for the 2012 SAAS Annual Conference and NIATx Summit, June 19-22, 2012 in EXCITING NEW ORLEANS!! Watch your email updates or check out the conference website for more information about the 2012 event.

SAAS Preferred Vendor Update


SAAS has contracted with Angela Halvorson to manage the SAAS members services program. She will be working with our preferred vendors and with members to ensure we are maximizing the many opportunities available with this program. She will be following up with many of you in the coming weeks. If you have any questions please contact her at or 217.553.2644.


Each month we spotlight one of our preferred vendors. This month's spotlight vendor is Sterling Reference Laboratories. 


 SRL Logo


Sterling Reference Laboratories


STERLING has designed group purchasing agreements with several SAAS members designed to save association members money on various drug-testing supplies and to provide associations with a form of revenue. AND IT IS WORKING! Read more about how you can save your members money in these tight budget times and earn money for your association:


STERLING Reference Laboratories offers Group Purchasing for drug testing to SAAS member associations. STERLING's goal is to offer members a savings for drug testing services and rapid drug test kits along with superior services, quick turnaround time, and continuing education with direct access to STERLING scientists. STERLING also includes a revenue payment back to an Association with a group purchasing agreement from member providers' sales.


STERLING has saved members thousands of dollars. MECCA Services in Iowa expects to save approximately $14,650/year by switching to STERLING!


STERLING has paid Iowa Behavioral Health Association approximately $4,082 in revenue payments just in the first half of 2011.


For information on STERLING Reference Laboratories Group Purchasing Program, please contact Melissa Peterson or call 1-800-442-0438.

Recovery Month Resources and Material Available

As a Recovery Month partner, we want to ensure that all state associations and providers have the latest in information and resources to host a recovery month event. SAMHSA has made the following information and resources available:  

Recovery Month Toolkit  


The theme for this year's Recovery Month campaign is Join the Voices for Recovery: Recovery Benefits Everyone, reinforcing opportunities for treatment through provisions of the Affordable Care Act and the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. The toolkit includes targeted outreach pieces developed specifically for policymakers, individuals, health care providers, and the workplace, as well as a new resources section and a variety of materials that can be used in media outreach efforts. Click here to order the toolkit. 

Television and Radio PSAs and a Web-Only PSA

As described by SAMHSA, "The 2011 PSAs Milestones and Steps, produced in English and Spanish," depict positive, uplifting stories of how one person's recovery not only improves one's own life but positively affects the lives of everyone around. The PSAs are available in short and long versions, and as finished or open-ended spots for organizations and localities to adapt for local use. New this year is a web-only PSA, Re. Re is an animated PSA that promotes the benefits of recovery. Re can be viewed on the Recovery Month website and then linked to or posted on your website, or shared via the

Teleconference on Peer Respite Services 



SAMHSA's ADS Center (Resource Center to Promote Acceptance, Dignity and Social Inclusion Associated with Mental Health) will host a training teleconference, Peer Respite Services: Transforming Crisis to Wellness, on August 4, 2011. Click here for details. 



Conference on Substance Abuse, Child Welfare and the Courts


SAMHSA will also host Putting the Pieces Together for Children and Families: The National Conference on Substance Abuse, Child Welfare, and the Courts on Sept. 14-16, 2011 in National Harbor, MD. Early registration by July 31, 2011, is only $350 per attendee. Click here for details and here to register.



SAMHSA Strategic Initiative #2: Trauma and Justice

Lead Staff: Larke Huang, Director, Office of Behavioral Health Equity


Purpose: To reduce the pervasive, harmful, and costly health impact of violence and trauma by integrating trauma-informed approaches throughout health, behavioral health, and related systems and addressing the behavioral health needs of people involved in or at risk of involvement in the criminal and juvenile justice systems.


Leading Change: A Plan for SAMHSA's Roles and Actions 2011 - 2014 (pdf | 778 kbytes)


Trauma is a widespread, harmful, and costly public health problem. It occurs as a result of violence, abuse, neglect, loss, disaster, war, and other emotionally harmful experiences. Trauma has no boundaries with regard to age, gender, socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, geography, or sexual orientation. It is an almost universal experience of people receiving treatment for mental and substance use disorders. The need to address trauma is increasingly viewed as an important component of effective behavioral health service delivery.


The effects of trauma place a heavy burden on individuals, families, and communities and create challenges for public institutions and service systems. Although many people who experience a traumatic event will go on with their lives without lasting negative effects, others will have more difficulty and experience traumatic stress reactions. Emerging research has documented the relationship among traumatic events, impaired neurodevelopmental and immune system responses, and subsequent health risk behaviors resulting in chronic physical and behavioral disorders. In fact, the chronic stress that often accompanies repeated or unresolved trauma has even been linked to physically observable negative changes in brain development, including a reduction in the size of the hippocampus,45 the portion of the brain associated with long-term memory and spatial reasoning. With appropriate supports and intervention, people can overcome traumatic experiences. However, most people go without these services and supports. Unaddressed trauma significantly increases the risk of mental and substance use disorders, chronic physical diseases, and early death.46


Individuals with experiences of trauma are found in multiple service sectors, not just in behavioral health. Studies of people in the juvenile and criminal justice system reveal high rates of mental and substance use disorders and personal histories of trauma. Children and families in the child welfare system similarly experience high rates of trauma and associated behavioral health problems. Preventing exposure to traumatic events and responding with early interventions and treatment for those experiencing traumatic stress may improve outcomes for these individuals and prevent prolonged involvement with the justice and child welfare systems.


SAMHSA"s programs, data, publications, and grantee projects can be found at their website:


45 Shonkoff, J. P., Boyce, W. T., & McEwen, B. S. (2009). Neuroscience, molecular biology, and the childhood roots of health disparities: Building a new framework for health promotion and disease prevention. Journal of the American Medical Association, 301(21), 2252-2259.

46Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration & National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors. (2004). The damaging consequences of violence and trauma. Retrieved March 2, 2011, from



National Conference on Substance Abuse, Child Welfare, and the Courts

September 14-16, 2011

National Harbor, MD 

Register Now


Putting the Pieces Together for Children and Families: The National Conference on Substance Abuse, Child Welfare, and the Courts will promote multidisciplinary collaborative advances in practice, research, and policy. These advances lead to effective, coordinated, and culturally relevant services for children, youth, and families affected by substance use disorders and child abuse or neglect. The conference, sponsored by the Center for Children and Family Futures, will also include the National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children and its 8th Annual Gathering.


Visit the conference website for registration, lodging, exhibiting, and conference schedule information. Early registration by July 31, 2011, is only $350 per attendee.


14th National Conference on Adult and Juvenile Female Offenders Conference

October 15-19, 2011

Salt Lake Sheraton, Salt Lake City, UT

For more information about the conference line see the conference flyer or contact Lisa Schauerhamer at 801.538.4086 or 


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