The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announces its latest entry in the Treatment Improvement Protocol (or TIP) series. The newest TIP highlights the importance of preventing alcohol-exposed pregnancies and recognizes the unique needs of individuals in treatment who may have been exposed to alcohol before birth. The new TIP was developed through a collaborative effort with key federal agencies and FASD-related organizations including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Indian Health Service, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and the Washington State FAS Diagnostic & Prevention Network.
TIP #58, Addressing Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD), was developed by the FASD Center for Excellence. FASD is an umbrella term for a range of potentially lifelong behavioral, physical, and psychological effects that can occur when a fetus is exposed to alcohol. Some researchers suggest that there may be as many as 200,000 new cases of FASD in the United States each year.
Part 1 of the TIP focuses on screening women of childbearing age for at-risk alcohol consumption, and outlines basic interventions that can help women reduce or eliminate their alcohol use in order to prevent alcohol-exposed pregnancies.
Part 2 of the TIP outlines a process for recognizing individuals in treatment who have or may have a FASD, and modifying treatment to improve outcomes and meet their unique needs. As with all TIPs, there is also a section for administrators that examines the cost and implementation factors of adding or expanding FASD-related services in a treatment setting.
SAMHSA established the FASD Center for Excellence in 2001 to help increase the quality of services available to women who are at risk of having alcohol-exposed pregnancy, as well as for individuals who have a FASD.
SAMHSA has published the TIP series since 1993. Over the last 20 years, TIPs have helped to promote a consensus-based approach to behavioral health treatment, and have raised awareness of the critical need to also address coexisting client conditions as part of treatment. However, alcohol consumption during pregnancy, which is the sole cause of FASD, had not been directly addressed. This information gap led to the development of Addressing Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA's mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America's communities.