The estimated impact of state-level support for expanded delivery of substance use disorder treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic

Among the numerous policies enacted during the COVID-19 pandemic, a notable one that highly impacted individuals with substance use disorders (SUDs) was the March 2020 suspension of regulations on SUD treatment. In order to better understand the effect of this suspension, a study led by PISC Senior Scholar Elizabeth D. Nesoff, PhD, MPH, conducted a cross-sectional analysis of state-level policy implementation. It found that 24 out of 50 states did not enact SUD-related policies, leaving around 460,995 individuals in treatment and 114,370 people on pre-pandemic medication for opioid use disorders uncovered by any policy expansion. The authors also state that no policies were associated with state-wide SUD prevalence or rate of unmet treatment need, although the clear disparity in implementation between states demonstrates a need for further research.

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