Emerging Issues

Treating Opioid Use Disorders

Life-changing, effective treatments to break the cycle of abuse

Opioid use disorders can be effectively treated with a combination of medications, behavioral therapies and counseling. Opioid use disorder medications—such as buprenorphine and methadone—have been shown to reduce death rates by one third to one half and help individuals return to normal functioning in their social relations, work and school. However, effective addiction treatment is often unavailable in a timely, cost-effective manner to those in need, and for a long enough time to be effective. RTI is helping to improve access to effective and cost-effective treatments for opioid use disorders.

In partnership with Shatterproof, states, health plans and the National Quality Forum, we are piloting a quality rating system for addiction treatment providers. Such systems have existed for nursing homes, hospitals, hospice and many other types of providers. The goal is to help consumers and their families more easily identify effective treatment options for opioid use disorders and other addictions.

Economic analyses provide critical information on the value of alternative treatments. We recently conducted an independent study to determine the cost-benefits of Triangle Residential Options for Substance Abusers (TROSA), an innovative, North Carolina-based, multiyear residential program that provides treatment, vocational training, education, and continuing care to people struggling with substance use disorder. The results of the small program are compelling: TROSA saves the state $7.5 million annually by preventing arrests, incarceration, and emergency hospital visits.

To ensure maximum effectiveness, public policies surrounding opioid use also need to be evaluated to understand how they affect people in treatment. To this end, we are examining the cost and cost-effectiveness of a patient-centered methadone maintenance treatment programs, the cost-effectiveness and cost-benefit of methadone maintenance for jail inmates with opioid addiction who are reentering the community, and extended-release naltrexone for adolescents and young adults with opioid addiction.

We have an extensive history of performing economic evaluations of substance use treatment and using modeling to evaluate the effects of policy changes on the lives of people in treatment. We use a multitude of methodologies to collect data, including web-based surveys to collect population-based information, and face-to-face interviews among prescribers to understand the factors that contribute to patient communication and medication compliance.

We’re continuously gathering key data, conducting essential research, and helping policymakers implement informed decisions—based on sound science—for the public good.

RTI uses cookies to offer you the best experience online. By continuing to use our website, you agree to the use of cookies. If you would like to know more about cookies and how to manage them please view our Privacy Policy. Learn More.

Got it!