The Need

The state of Louisiana has the highest rate of national guard discharges for illicit drug use.

Historically, guard members have paid out of pocket for treatment.

The average age of a national guard member is 19 to 20 years old.

The Solution

The Substance Abuse Services Initiative (SASI) is a federally-funded pilot project designed to provide a continuum of substance abuse services to soldiers to promote Army National Guard soldier readiness. SASI pilot projects are now underway in four states.

One vital component is to help cover the cost of assessments and brief intervention services for Guardsmen. Money comes to the state through SAMHSA funding and pays for soldiers to get screening and BI. Soldiers can receive up to 12 brief interventions depending on severity of their risky substance use

Another aspect of SASI is training. Under SASI, local providers are trained in culturally-informed treatment approaches that are sensitive to service member’s unique circumstances. IRETA provided onsite Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) training to local addiction service providers who were likely to encounter Guardsmen seeking services.

We have also offered the same Louisiana provider community a series of online trainings on two areas of interest: Advanced Motivational Interviewing and Military Culture.

The Results

In partnership with the SAMHSA and the Louisiana National Guard, IRETA has developed an effective model for implementing SBIRT training within a new type of system.


After IRETA’s initial involvement in the setup of the SASI program in 2014-2015, it has continued to run for several years, connecting members of the National Guard with substance use disorder services.

This project was part of a larger grant through SAMHSA, where IRETA served for five years as the National SBIRT Addiction Technology Transfer Center (ATTC). Many other programs across the United States benefited from SBIRT training, similarly to those involved with Louisiana SASI.