Linkage facilitation services for opioid use disorder: Taxonomy of facilitation practitioners, goals, and activities

J Subst Use Addict Treat. 2024 Feb:157:209217. doi: 10.1016/j.josat.2023.209217. Epub 2023 Nov 20.


Introduction: This article proposes a taxonomy of linkage facilitation services used to help persons with opioid use disorder access treatment and recovery resources. Linkage facilitation may be especially valuable for persons receiving medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD) given the considerable barriers to treatment access and initiation that have been identified. The science of linkage facilitation currently lacks both consistent communication about linkage facilitation practices and a conceptual framework for guiding research.

Methods: To address this gap, this article presents a taxonomy derived from expert consensus that organizes the array of practitioners, goals, and activities associated with linkage services for OUD and related needs. Expert panelists first independently reviewed research reports and policy guidelines summarizing the science and practice of linkage facilitation for substance use disorders generally and OUD specifically, then met several times to vet the conceptual scheme and content of the taxonomy until they reached a final consensus.

Results: The derived taxonomy contains eight domains: facilitator identity, facilitator lived experience, linkage client, facilitator-client relationship, linkage activity, linkage method, linkage connectivity, and linkage goal. For each domain, the article defines basic domain categories, highlights research and practice themes in substance use and OUD care, and introduces innovations in linkage facilitation being tested in one of two NIDA-funded research networks: Justice Community Opioid Innovation Network (JCOIN) or Consortium on Addiction Recovery Science (CoARS).

Conclusions: To accelerate consistent application of this taxonomy to diverse research and practice settings, the article concludes by naming several considerations for linkage facilitation workforce training and implementation.

Keywords: Linkage facilitation; Medications; Opioid use disorder; Recovery; Taxonomy; Treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Behavior, Addictive*
  • Cognition
  • Goals
  • Humans
  • Opioid-Related Disorders* / therapy


  • Analgesics, Opioid