Feds Name Model Anti-Drug Programs

Print More

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) more than doubled its list of model substance abuse prevention programs last month when it honored 20 new programs with its "Seal of Approval."

These programs, deemed to be effective by SAMHSA's Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP), can expect increased national attention and requests for training from other agencies.

Steven Gardner, CSAP's deputy director for the Division of Knowledge, Development and Evaluation, said placement on the list is not a requirement for CSAP funding, but the award helps agencies in other ways. "When [programs receiving the seal of approval] go to market themselves, it helps to have results," he said.

The programs will probably get more attention, Gardner said, because more states are requiring the same kind of science-based results and analysis that CSAP uses when it decides which programs to fund. Gardner said 13 states require science-based data for a program to receive state or federal funds for substance abuse services.

Those who've made the CSAP list before say the honor helped to make them more prominent. "The award gave our project national recognition, which enabled us to implement it more on the statewide level," said Ann Standing, director of the University of Minnesota-based Project Northland.

"That award gave people the assurance they needed to decide that this program works since it has been tested and followed up on," said Dr. Linn Goldberg, director of Athletes Training and Learning to Avoid Steroids, based in Portland, Ore.

CSAP requires results that include comparative control groups and "pre- and post-tests," Gardner said. He said that keeping track of youths in the years after they are in the program is optional.

The CSAP budget for its Community Initiated Grant Programs is $7.6 million this year, and Gardner estimates that each agency receives $350,000. Groups can apply to replicate a CSAP model program or any other program, he said, although the burden is on them to prove that a non-CSAP program is effective.

Drug Strategies Vice President Rosalind Brannigan said the listing is valuable because CSAP "needs to give people on the local level some guidance as to what work and what doesn't," but noted that small "homegrown" programs would "have a problem proving themselves as efficacious as a program published in New York City."

Brannigan, whose agency promotes effective approaches to drug problems, says the use of model programs by CSAP and the Department of Education follows a trend started by Capitol Hill. "As Congress requires more accountability [for spending on programs], federal agencies are starting to require more accountability as well," she said.

For a list of model programs, call (301) 443-0383, or go to http://www.samhsa.gov/centers/csap/modelprograms/programs.cfm.