Integrating Addiction Treatment and Medical Care in a Commercial Health Plan

The Medication Research Partnership (Partnership) is a collaboration between a national commercial health plan and treatment centers contracting with the health plan. The Partnership extended the Advancing Recovery model, developed in publicly funded systems of care to facilitate organizational change and promote the adoption of evidence-based practices for the treatment of alcohol and drug use disorders, to a commercial health plan and tested the model’s generalizability to increase use of medications for members covered by a commercial health plan. The study had four aims:

Specific Aim 1: Apply the Advancing Recovery model of system change to accelerate the implementation of buprenorphine-assisted treatment and integration with medical care within Aetna Behavioral Health and 12 intensive outpatient addiction treatment centers compared to 12 untreated comparison sites.

Specific Aim 2: Assess the impact of buprenorphine on the utilization and cost of behavioral health and medical care using Aetna’s utilization and payment data.

Specific Aim 3: Spread medication-assisted treatment to include alcohol medications in the 12 study sites.

Specific Aim 4: Conduct qualitative interviews to document implementation barriers and effective implementation strategies for medication assisted treatment.

Project Duration: 07/01/11–06/30/16

Primary Personnel

Principal Investigator: Dennis McCarty, Oregon Health and Sciences University
Co-Investigator: James H. Ford II
Co-Investigator: Mady Chalk, Treatment Research Institute
Co-Investigator: Amanda Abraham, University of Georgia
Co-Investigator: Laura Schmidt, University of California San Francisco

Funding Source

National Institute on Drug Abuse


National Institute on Drug Abuse


  • Ford II, J. H., Abraham, A., Lupulescu-Mann, N., Croff, R., Hoffman, K. A., Alanis-Hirsch, K., … McCarty, D. Promoting adoption of medication for opioid and alcohol use disorders through system change. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. Accepted for Publication (3/17/17)
  • Alanis-Hirsch, K., Croff, R., Ford II, J. H., Johnson, K., Chalk, M., Schmidt, L., & McCarty, D. (2016). Extended-release naltrexone: A qualitative analysis of barriers to routine use. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 62, 68-73. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2015.10.003
  • K. Alanis-Hirsch, R. Croff, J. Ford, L. Schmidt, D. McCarty, M. Chalk Strategies to influence attitudes towards pharmacotherapies for alcohol and opioid use disorders (Poster Presentation). College on Problem Drug Dependence, June 15-19, 2014. San Juan, PR
  • R. Croff, K. Alanis-Hirsch, J. Ford, L. Schmidt, M. Chalk, D. McCarty. Strategies to increase family influence on patient decisions about medication-assisted treatment  (Poster Presentation). College on Problem Drug Dependence, June 15-19, 2014. San Juan, PR
  • Ford JH 2nd, Croff R, Chalk M, Alanis-Hirsch K, Johnson K, Schmidt L and McCarty D. Strategies to Implement and Sustain Medication Use for Alcohol and Opioid Disorders. (Poster Presentation). Addiction Health Services Research, October 15-17, 2014. Boston, MA.
  • Ford JH 2nd, Croff R, Chalk M, Alanis-Hirsch K, Johnson K, Schmidt L and McCarty D Strategies to Increase the Sustainability of Medication Assisted Treatment. AMERSA. November 6-8, 2014. San Francisco, CA
  • Ford II JH, Abraham A, Lupulescu-Mann N, Croff R, Chalk M, Johnson K, Schmidt L and McCarty D. Medication Research Partnership: Implementing Change to Increase Medication Use for Alcohol and Opioid Disorders Addiction Health Services Research Conference (Oral Presentation) October 14 to 16, 2015