Skip to main content

How to get better health outcomes for those with substance use disorders


Patients with alcohol and substance use disorders are more likely to have better outcomes with patient education, early treatment and follow-up care. Despite strong evidence that treatment, including Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT), along with counseling or other behavior therapies improve patient outcomes, less than 20% of those with substance use disorders receive treatment.1


Please use these guidelines to help improve outcomes for your patients.


Provide adequate screening and education


Be sure to screen your patients for alcohol use and substance use, and educate them about risks. Help them understand their diagnosis and comorbidities. Discuss the importance of follow-up care and attending all appointments.


Manage appointments


After diagnosis, treatment should be initiated within 14 days, but the type of treatment can vary based on the severity of the symptoms as well as the member’s motivation for treatment. Follow-up care should occur a minimum of 2 times within 34 days of the initial treatment visit. Avoid claims issues by using the appropriate diagnosis codes. Be sure to also include place of service and procedure code (as applicable in your contract).


Common treatment options:


Enlist help


Encourage your patients to sign a release of information so that you can collaborate with other providers. Aetna® reimburses for coordination-of-care with other providers. The release should also allow you to include members of the patient’s primary support system in treatment discussions.


You should also provide the patient and their support system with information about resources such as:


We’re here to support the care you give your patients. If you need help locating appropriate behavioral health providers, call the Member Services number on the patient’s ID card.


1Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: results from the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Publication number PEP20-07-01-001. September 2020. Accessed July 14, 2022.

Legal notices

Aetna is the brand name used for products and services provided by one or more of the Aetna group of companies, including Aetna Life Insurance Company and its affiliates (Aetna).

Health benefits and health insurance plans contain exclusions and limitations.

Also of interest: