Perceptions of the State Policy Environment and Adoption of Medications in the Treatment of Substance Use Disorders

States play a role in promoting the adoption of medications for substance-use disorders and dependence. However, widespread adoption of medications for treatment of substance abuse may be weakened by lack of awareness of funding policies.

Using mailed surveys and telephone interviews, the sample included responses from 250 publicly funded substance abuse treatment programs. Data collection occurred from August 2009 through June 2010. Measures included: substance abuse medication prescribed, the perceived state policy environment, and organizational characteristics of the treatment center. A total of 37 percent of treatment programs reported having prescribed at least one medication.

Key Findings:

  • Medication adoption in the treatment programs was positively associated with perceptions about their state’s policy environment and support of medication.
  • Adoption of medication was highest (79%) in the 43 programs aware of both Medicaid and state-contract funding policies.

Several limitations to this study should be noted. These results only represent that of the publicly funded treatment programs, and the administrator’s reports may include recall bias. Also, there may have been measures in the state policy environment that serve as barriers or facilitators to medication adoption that were not included. Future research regarding implementation of medications compared to the adoption as studied here, is an important next step for the evolving policy environment.