Treatment for Substance Use Disorder: Opportunities and Challenges under the Affordable Care Act

health_care_reformDrs. Nora Volkow and Betty Tai of the National Institute on Drug Abuse recently authored a paper envisioning systems changes under the Affordable Care Act and new models for addressing the continuum of substance use. The article concluded:

“Addiction is a chronic disease for which multiple episodes of treatment, remission, relapse, and retreatment frequently occur before achieving stable recovery. The recent health care reform legislation provides many opportunities to transform an episodic and reactive treatment model into a proactive chronic treatment care model. A comprehensive chronic care model (CCM) for substance use disorder (SUD) should start from routine screening and brief intervention (SBI) in primary care settings to detect early-risk behaviors in patients. The care for persons diagnosed with SUD should follow a CCM with effective coordination and collaboration between primary care and behavioral health care services to ensure continuity of care. Aggressively leveraging modern health information technologies (HITs) and expanding roles of nonphysician workforces, such as social workers, are critical to the success of chronic care management of SUD. With a new transformed care model, prevention and early treatment for SUDs will become an essential part of a more effective continuing care system, which under full implementation of the ACA will lead to vastly improved public health in the United States.”

 The article that appeared in a recent issue of the journal Social Work in Public Health is available at:


Source: Clinical Trials Network Dissemination Library – 2013