Substance Use Disorder and Addiction

Governors have long been at the forefront of efforts to prevent and treat opioid use disorder (OUD) and substance use disorder (SUD), working with stakeholders to mount a comprehensive response to the opioid epidemic. Since 2012, the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices has supported states in their efforts to address this crisis and help save lives. Over the years, NGA Health and NGA Public Safety and Legal Counsel have jointly worked with states to identify and implement evidenced based best practices related to substance use disorder. NGA focus areas include but are not limited to:

  • Sharing evidenced based prevention, treatment, and recovery strategies and programs;
  • Using data and evaluation in policy development;
  • Improving outcomes for targeted populations (justice-involved individuals, pregnant and parenting women, LGBTQIA+, people of color, and other historically underrepresented populations);
  • Expanding access to medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD);
  • Identifying trends in polysubstance use and identifying comprehensive responses to addiction;
  • Addressing infectious diseases as a result of SUD/OUD;
  • Strategies to improve the treatment of individuals with co-occurring disorders; and
  • Increasing access to non-opioid management of chronic pain.

Current Projects

Improving Outcomes for Individuals with Opioid Use Disorder on Community Supervision

While states have made progress in implementing and expanding access to treatment services for justice-involved individuals within correctional facilities, many states continue to encounter significant barriers to continuity of care and access to evidence-based treatment upon reentry and reintegration into the community. In response, NGA and the American Correctional Association are supporting Alaska, Maryland, Tennessee, and Virginia through December 2021 on efforts to strengthen health and substance use treatment services for justice-involved populations on community supervision. This work includes increasing connections to, and continuity of, treatment services for justice-involved individuals, including MOUD. Additionally, pursing strategies to promote reentry planning and continuity of care and best practices from other states on supervision strategies that support access to community-based treatment for individuals with OUD.

Through a partnership with the Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Abuse Program (COSSAP), NGA hosted a roundtable with officials from Arkansas, Delaware, Kansas, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee to discuss shared challenges and innovative approaches to improving community supervision of individual with substance use disorder. This roundtable culminated in a publication on Community Supervision and Treatment of Individuals With Substance Use Disorder Challenges and Opportunities for Governors and State Officials.

Improving Care for Stimulant and Polysubstance Use

NGA has been hosting a series of learning calls with national experts, Governors’ office staff and senior officials, researchers, academics, and local organizations to better understand the current landscape and challenges from state leaders for addressing stimulant and polysubstance use at the state level. These conversations culminated in a roundtable in July 2021, where eight focus areas emerged that Governors and their senior state officials could consider in developing and implementing equitable approaches to reducing stimulant and polysubstance use. To build on these efforts and continue supporting Governors, NGA will launch a Policy Academy this fall for four states on implementing and strengthening strategies aimed at improving care for individuals affected by stimulant and polysubstance use.


Substance Use Disorder and Addiction Library

Lessons Learned in State Collaboration to Address Substance Use Disorder and Justice-Involved Individuals

Lessons Learned in State Collaboration to Address Substance Use Disorder and Justice-Involved Individuals

This policy brief highlights lessons learned from collaborative efforts in Hawai‘i, Pennsylvania and West Virginia between SAAs and SSAs to address SUD issues within justice-involved populations. (Download) Executive Summary A ...
National Recovery Month - 2021

National Recovery Month – 2021

National Recovery Month is held each September to promote and support new evidence-based treatment and recovery practices, the emergence of a strong and proud recovery community, and the dedication of ...
Governors on Criminal Justice and Public Safety Issues

Governors on Criminal Justice and Public Safety Issues

Governors’ 2021 State of the State addresses confirm that while the challenges evolve in shape and scale, public safety and criminal justice issues remain top priorities across the country. By ...
State of the States Opioid Survey and Analysis

State of the States Opioid Survey and Analysis

Amidst a global pandemic that has challenged states’ capacities to respond to increasing overdose deaths, collecting and sharing information across partners to effectively respond to new challenges will be more ...
Community Supervision and Treatment of Individuals With Substance Use Disorder

Community Supervision and Treatment of Individuals With Substance Use Disorder

This policy brief highlights the common challenges and opportunities for governors and state officials to inform state and local policy development and improve outcomes for individuals with SUD who are ...
Expanding Access to Medications for Opioid Use Disorder in Corrections and Community Settings

Expanding Access to Medications for Opioid Use Disorder in Corrections and Community Settings

During this webinar, NGA and ACA provided an overview of a step-by-step guide for governors and state officials to expand access to medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) with the goal ...
Associations Release Roadmap on Strategies for Countering Opioid Misuse in Correctional Settings

Associations Release Roadmap on Strategies for Countering Opioid Misuse in Correctional Settings

As opioid overdoses continue to claim tens of thousands of American lives each year, the National Governors Association (NGA) and the American Correctional Association (ACA) released a roadmap outlining strategies ...
Expanding Access to Medications for Opioid Use Disorder in Corrections and Community Settings

Expanding Access to Medications for Opioid Use Disorder in Corrections and Community Settings

This roadmap highlights existing state efforts and serves as a policy development tool for Governors and state officials seeking to improve coordination and bolster existing efforts across state agencies to ...
Supporting State Behavioral Health Systems During COVID-19 Response and Recovery

Supporting State Behavioral Health Systems During COVID-19 Response and Recovery

This paper identifies for Governors the key issues that are currently challenging state behavioral health systems, along with actions that state agencies may consider to support and sustain behavioral health ...