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Importance of Sustainability Planning

Achieving sustainability may require demonstrating measurable impacts on substance use disorder (SUD) program participants and the overall community. Rural communities can use data gathered through program evaluation to demonstrate the value of programs addressing SUD activities.

To receive continued support from diverse stakeholders and funders, rural communities often need to make the business case for investing in SUD treatment and prevention activities. Different stakeholders may be interested in different types of information. For example, policymakers may be interested in evidence of reduced overdose-related deaths, employers may be interested in interventions that decrease absenteeism, and insurers may be interested in reducing costs associated with inpatient treatment. The National Council for Behavioral Health provides briefs that discuss the business case for effective mental health and SUD treatment.

Key issues to consider when planning for sustainability of SUD treatment and prevention programs include:

  • Planning for potential staff turnover
  • Developing plans for training new staff
  • Planning for the future of partnerships, including plans to sustain program consortia and maintain communication among partners
  • Tracking evaluation measures to demonstrate program impact
  • Tracking new research findings and best practices
  • Monitoring population demographics, changes, and trends in the community
  • Identifying funds for equipment, particularly for naloxone expansion programs
  • Identifying strategies to achieve long-term sustainability

The Rural Health Information Hub's Sustainability Planning Tools section provides access to resources developed by the Georgia Health Policy Center that can help rural organizations plan for sustainability.