Resources for Recovery: State Practices that Expand Treatment Opportunities

An RWJF National Program

Field of Work: Helping states expand their substance abuse treatment systems.

Problem Synopsis: In 2001, the nation's system for treating alcohol and other drug abuse was not keeping pace with the need for treatment services. Data from a federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration survey that year showed: an estimated 16.6 million Americans ages 12 and up (7.3% of the population) either abused or were dependent on alcohol, illicit drugs or both—up from 14.5 million (6.5%) the previous year (a 14.5% increase); the number of individuals ages 12 and up who needed treatment for illicit drug use increased to an estimated 6.1 million from 4.7 million the year before (a 29.8% increase); and, although the number of people receiving treatment for drug problems at a specialty facility increased from an estimated 800,000 in 2000 to 1.1 million in 2001, the number needing but not getting treatment also increased—from an estimated 3.9 million to 5 million (a 28.2% increase).

Synopsis of the Work: Resources for Recovery: State Practices that Expand Treatment Opportunities (July 2002 to October 2007) awarded grants to implement improvement strategies to five states, and supplied technical assistance to 10. Teams in the 15 states analyzed how treatment in their states was financed, administered and delivered and identified strategies to use current resources to purchase more and better services. Maximizing use of Medicaid—and federal Medicaid reimbursement dollars—to cover substance abuse treatment was a key focus of the program.

Key Results

  • The program staff reported the following at the program's conclusion:

    • Alabama, Florida and Nebraska—three grant states that focused on enhanced Medicaid reimbursement—increased funding for substance abuse treatment by a total of $5.6 million in the first year of their Resources for Recovery projects.
    • States that increased their substance abuse treatment funding used the additional funding to purchase evidence-based services or practices considered promising.
    • State agencies that had few or no historical relationships developed important collaborations to share financial and staff resources.
    • The length of the program was not sufficient to identify appreciable changes in access to services.

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