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Understanding Substance Use Disorder Treatment Needs Using Assessment Data: Final Report

Publication Date
Oct 15, 2020


John Richardson, PhD, Alex Cowell, PhD, Eric Villeneuve, MPH, Jesse Hinde, PhD, Kristine Rae Olmstead, MSPH, and Sarita Karon, PhD

RTI International

February 2020

Link to HTML Version (43 PDF pages)


To identify and address gaps in substance use disorder (SUD) treatment capacity, state and federal policymakers need information on the need and demand for different SUD levels of care. Although there exists some information on SUD treatment capacity by level of care, there is no national database of information on the treatment needs of individuals by level of care. This project explored the feasibility of gathering and utilizing patient placement and other needs assessment data to identify and address unmet patient needs by levels of care. We conducted an environmental scan of existing literature, and held discussions with subject matter experts (SMEs) and with state stakeholders from California, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

We found substantial variability in whether states required a needs assessment or standardized set of intake questions. Even states that used the same placement criteria had different approaches to how they applied the criteria. With regard to the availability of placement criteria data, we found three multi-state data sources, but they are limited in scope and accessibility. Few states analyze their data to assess treatment gaps.

This report was prepared under contract #HHSP233201600021I between HHS's ASPE/DALTCP and RTI International. For additional information about this subject, you can visit the DALTCP home page at… or contact the ASPE Project Officer 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 August 22, 2019, and updated on December 16, 2019.