For the past several decades, incarceration has been one of our nation’s primary tactics in addressing substance use and substance use disorders, resulting in record rates of incarceration, particularly for people of color in the United States. Research shows that incarceration does little to address problematic drug use and, in reality, exacerbates the conditions in which substance use disorder thrives.  In growing recognition of these poor outcomes, some communities have started to move away from incarceration as a response to drug use.

However, decarceration alone is insufficient.  Communities need a comprehensive approach to address the totality of services and supports that will help people live and thrive in their communities, including seamless access to evidence-based treatment, housing, employment, family and social support, and more.  Speakers will discuss strategies for ensuring that community-based services increase as incarceration decreases, how communities are aligning incentives to promote reform, and how society can translate research into actionable policy and practice to support a new paradigm.


  • Caleb Banta-Green, PhD, MPH, MSW, Principal Research Scientist at the UW Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute and an Affiliate Associate Professor, UW School of Public Health
  • Michael Botticelli, former Director, Grayken Center for Addiction, Boston Medical Center; former Director of National Drug Control Policy in the Obama White House
  • Patrice Harris, MD, MA, Immediate Past President of the American Medical Association


Medication for Opioid Use Disorder Substance Use Disorder US Health Care Policy

Related Initiatives

Addiction and Public Policy

Related Projects

Access to Evidence-Based Treatment for Substance Use Disorder

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