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Whole Person Policy Proposed to Address Substance Use Challenges

The O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University recently released a report, Transcending MET (Money, Ego, Turf) – A Whole Person, Whole Government Approach to Addressing Substance Use Disorder (SUD) through Aligned Funding Streams and Coordinated Outcomes. This report includes contributions from a range of people including Margaret Swarbrick, PhD, FAOTA, Associate Director, Rutgers University Center of Alcohol and Substance Use Studies Professor, Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology. Other collaborators include the NYU McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research and the O’Neill Institute’s Recovery Policy Collaborative. The report posits that Money, Ego, and Turf (MET) establish and sustain structural barriers to addressing substance use disorder (SUD), such as burdensome regulations and disjointed funding. These barriers get in the way of accessing quality treatment and non-clinical community-based supports. As a result, people in need struggle unnecessarily when seeking to link with and engage in service, causing challenges to achieving long-term recovery. The report recommends a pathway to a coordinated, targeted, and outcomes-driven approach to SUD. Guiding principles and concrete recommendations for governments are spelled out in the report. These leverage the recent infusion of significant federal dollars, opioid litigation proceeds, and other funding sources such as philanthropy and cannabis tax revenue, to incentivize investment through transformed government budgets. The recommendations are based on research on best and promising practices for addressing SUD and other health and social justice issues, incorporating the perspectives of people with lived experience of SUD, innovative programs, and stakeholders in government, public health, law enforcement and criminal justice, healthcare, and behavioral health. A summary follows.

Policies and programs across all of government support recovery and reflect science and evidence

  • Evidence-based, evidence-informed, high-quality services across government
  • Services, support, and treatment on demand
  • Racial equity, economic disparities, and cultural awareness
  • Whole person and recovery-oriented systems
  • Trauma-informed and compassionate systems
  • Continuous quality improvement

Standardized outcomes for SUD across government agencies

  • Standardized data reporting across government agencies
  • Whole-person outcome measures across the government
  • Standardized, outcome-based data framework to address SUD across government agencies

Aligning funding for SUD across government agencies to meet a cohesive set of outcomes

  • Leverage federal programs to blend and braid funding across systems
  • Implement models to map funding across government agencies and align goals, missions, and outcomes

Governance for an ecosystem of care

  • Coordinated governance that transcends leadership changes
  • Coordinated data collection and data sharing to support aligned funding and outcomes

Click HERE  to access the full report.

Source: Weizman, S., El-Sabawi, T., Martinez, J., Fishbein, D., & LaBelle, R. (2023, May). Transcending MET (Money, Ego, Turf): A whole person, whole government approach to addressing addiction through aligned funding streams and coordinated outcomes. Washington, DC: O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown Law Center.