Baton Rouge – The Department of Health and Hospitals’ Office for Addictive Disorders prepares to submit a request to the federal government for additional money to partner with faith-based organizations for the treatment of alcohol and drug addictions.

Under the Recovery Now program, the president announced his intentions to make $200 million available for states to expand their capacity to treat addictions. It is optimistic that Congress will approve this month $100 million of the president’s request. LDH Secretary David Hood said he is confident Louisiana can develop a competitive application to secure a sizeable portion of these funds.

"Over the past several years, LDH and our Office for Addictive Disorders have already begun to work with faith-based groups to expand the number of organizations that provide treatment services," Hood said. "Therefore, I am confident that we can develop a proposal that will convince the federal government of the need to expand treatment services in Louisiana, and that we can successfully manage a faith-based approach to treatment."

Michael Duffy, assistant secretary for the Office for Addictive Disorders, says although there has been some controversy surrounding government becoming involved with faith-based organizations, the history of alcohol treatment began with a religious group.

"We recognize the fact that the 12-step approach to treatment had, as its roots, a conservative evangelical group who came to this country from England to practice religious freedom," Duffy explained. "Known as the Oxford Group, this organization chose a focus of their ministry to assist those suffering from alcoholism. Some of those members eventually formed Alcoholics Anonymous."

Duffy added that the 12-step approach embraced by Alcoholics Anonymous is also the backbone of almost all successful approaches to helping people overcome addictions.

"Once these new funds become available, we can expand treatment opportunities in Louisiana," Duffy said. "Last year, we served more than 59,000 people who needed treatment for substance abuse. Yet there is still a tremendous need for additional services. In fact, our current funding only allowed us to serve 9 percent of adults and 4.5 percent of adolescents who needed treatment for an addiction. There is a huge, unmet need for services, and some faith-based groups have shown impressive successes."

The Office for Addictive Disorders has entered into contracts to conduct a survey to identify faith-based treatment programs statewide and compile a list of faith-based resources that soon will be posted on the OAD Web site. In addition, OAD has developed standards to ensure that faith-based organizations wishing to provide substance abuse treatment meet the same requirements as other providers.

"Faith-based organizations must be licensed to provide these services," Duffy said. "We are in the process of developing a training curriculum to assist these organizations as they train their staff and seek the proper licensing," Duffy said.

Information about DHH’s Office for Addictive Disorders and its approach to faith-based treatment can be found by clicking below: