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Best Practices and Barriers to Engaging People with Substance Use Disorders in Treatment

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Substance use disorders (SUDs) represent a serious public health problem in the United States. Recent attention has focused most on opioid use, including heroin use and prescription opioid misuse, with the attendant high rates of opioid-related overdoses. Alcohol use disorders are more common than opioid use disorders and also represent a public health concern. There is, however, evidence-based treatment for both alcohol and opioid use disorders (OUDs), although rates of treatment receipt are persistently low. One measure of treatment receipt is the Initiation and Engagement of Alcohol and Other Drug Dependence Treatment (IET) performance measure, which is commonly reported by health plans and used by several Medicare and Medicaid programs. Reported IET results vary significantly between plans. This indicates that some plans are more effective than others at initiating and engaging their members in SUD treatment. This study used NCQA-accredited HEDIS data, which captures at least 75 percent of health plans, to identify high performing plans on the IET measure to help assess characteristics and interventions associated with better initiation and engagement of SUD treatment by plan members.

This report was prepared under contract #HHSP23320100022WI between HHS's ASPE/DALTCP and Truven Health Analytics. For additional information about this subject, you can visit the DALTCP home page at or contact the ASPE Project Officers, Laurel Fuller and D.E.B. Potter, at HHS/ASPE/DALTCP, Room 424E, H.H. Humphrey Building, 200 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20201;

DISCLAIMER: The opinions and views expressed in this report are those of the authors. They do not reflect the views of the Department of Health and Human Services, the contractor or any other funding organization. This report was completed and submitted on September 29, 2017.