The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced that it is ending the National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices (NREPP) and replacing it with an as-yet undefined effort to be administered by SAMHSA’s newly created Policy Lab.
We hope that this development will advance our nation’s efforts to prevent and treat substance abuse and mental illness. As behavioral scientists who have been working on these efforts for the past forty years, we highlight below some critical steps that are needed for this change to truly improve Americans’ health.
In her recent statement, Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use, Dr. McCance- Katz, focuses on deficiencies in the evidence base of some interventions in the NREPP system and the lack of treatments for those with serious mental illness and addiction.
We agree with others who have expressed concerns about the standards of evidence used to select programs for the NREPP registry. As scientists entrenched in this research, we have endorsed higher standards for dissemination of evidence based programs including the Society for Prevention Research Standards of Evidence and the Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development Standards, also adopted by the 2016 surgeon general’s report, Facing Addiction in America: Alcohol, Drugs and Health.