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

Governors Lead the Charge on Opioid Abuse, Education Reform, Zika Response

WASHINGTON—At the 2016 National Governors Association (NGA) Winter Meeting, led by Chair Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and Vice Chair Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, more than 40 governors gathered to discuss critical issues of ...

Governors, Physicians Call For End To Nation’s Opioid Epidemic

Joint statement by National Governors Association (NGA) Health and Human Services Committee Chair Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker; Vice Chair New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan; American Medical Association (AMA) Chair-Elect Patrice ...

Governors Make Recommendations To Address National Opioid Epidemic

WASHINGTON—To address the deadliest drug epidemic in U.S. history, the nation’s governors are calling on the federal government to take swift action. Governors’ Priorities for Addressing the Nation’s Opioid Crisis provide ...

State, Local Leaders Expand Efforts to Treat Opioid Overdoses

NGA, the National Association of Counties and other organizations today announced an agreement that will offer public agencies access to a reduced-price, potentially lifesaving opioid withdrawal nasal spray. The FDA-approved ...

Reducing Prescription Drug Abuse: Lessons Learned from an NGA Policy Academy

As part of the National Governors Association’s (NGA) ongoing effort to help states reduce prescription drug abuse, findings from the Prescription Drug Abuse Reduction Policy Academy were the focus of ...

Six Strategies for Reducing Prescription Drug Abuse

The abuse of prescription drugs is the fastest growing drug problem in the United States, and is the most common type of drug abuse after marijuana use among teens between ...