A five-year, $8.3 million federal grant will be used by Wishard Health Services to identify and treats people at risk of substance abuse.
The money was awarded to the state of Indiana by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The state selected Wishard and the Indiana University School of Medicine to administer the program. The medical school provides the medical staff for Wishard.
Three of Wishard’s community health centers, including its Midtown Community Mental Health Center in Indianapolis, will participate in the early phase of the program.
At every appointment at these centers, all patients will be asked about their alcohol and drug usage confidentially, as part of an early-intervention approach. A version of this approach has been tried since late 2010 at Wishard’s Primary Care Center.
This type of across-the-board screening for alcohol and drug abuse has allowed for earlier interventions when it has been tried by other health care providers, according to a statement from Wishard.
Earlier interventions have been shown to decrease the frequency and severity of patients’ substance abuse. And when more patients get brief rounds of treatment for substance abuse, they have fewer visits to the emergency room and spend fewer days in hospitals, Wishard said.
"Alcohol and substance abuse remain a challenging problem in our society. A key part of prevention and intervention among those with substance-abuse issues, as well as those at risk, is early identification and treatment," said Margie Payne, CEO of Midtown and vice president of mental health operations at Wishard, in a prepared statement. "The earlier a problem is detected, the more effective prevention efforts may be."