NASADAD releases policy brief on disasters and substance use

With increased attention on substance use during disasters due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NASADAD staff have revised an issue brief on the topic. The Disasters and Substance Use: Implications for the Response to COVID-19 brief includes data on recent disasters, policy recommendations, and spotlights on Louisiana and New York’s response to Hurricane Katrina and 9/11. NASADAD recommended the following:

  • During a disaster, the federal government should coordinate with State alcohol and drug agencies given the link between trauma and substance use disorders.
  • Policymakers should consider specifically referencing substance use disorders in the statute governing disaster declarations (Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act) to ensure a holistic and comprehensive response.
  • Supplemental federal funding designed to help respond to substance use disorder needs during a large-scale disaster that impacts all States—such as COVID-19—should be routed through the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment (SAPT) Block Grant, including enhanced flexibility regarding certain allowable uses.