Full Summary - Contributions of Social and Behavioral Research in Addressing the Opioid Crisis
March 6, 2018
The NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) convened this meeting in collaboration with National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) and the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) as part of the NIH Cutting-Edge Science Meeting Series to End the Opioid Crisis. Participants included leaders and subject matter experts with diverse expertise in research and practice relevant to the opioid crisis.
The goals of the meeting were to: 1) specify key actionable social and behavioral science findings that can be brought to bear immediately to address the opioid crisis, and 2) identify critical short-term, as well as potential mid-term and longer-term research priorities that have the potential to improve the opioid crisis response.
These discussions were organized in five panels:
- Panel 1: Sociocultural and socioeconomic underpinnings of the crisis
- Panel 2: Behavioral and social factors preventing opioid initiation and mitigating the transition from acute to chronic opioid use
- Panel 3: Incorporating nonpharmacologic approaches in the treatment of opioid abuse and chronic pain management
- Panel 4: Challenges and barriers to implementing prevention and treatment strategies
- Panel 5: Effective models of integrated approaches
Opening Remarks: Day 1
Dr. Francis Collins, Director of NIH, and Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of NIDA, each opened the meeting by highlighting the severity of the crisis, noting the rapid rise in opioid overdose death, the need for greater availability and more individualized treatments for the over two million Americans with opioid use disorder (OUD), and the urgent need for non-addictive pain management for the over 25 million experiencing pain. They described NIH research initiatives based on discussions from prior meetings in this series, including innovative opioid addiction treatments, effective pain management strategies, and overdose reversal treatments. Drs. Collins and Volkow noted that as overdose deaths from prescription opioids plateaued, overdose deaths from heroin and synthetic opioids (e.g., fentanyl) have dramatically increased. They posed a number of key questions to the participants including: 1) Which social factors contributing to the opioid crisis present malleable social change targets?, 2) How can technologies and citizen science approaches be leveraged to address these factors?, 3) How can prescribing practices be modified to reduce the transition from acute to chronic opioid use without causing drug seeking elsewhere?, 4) Can we reliably predict which individuals will respond to psychosocial strategies of medication assisted therapy (MAT)?, and 5) How can social and behavioral interventions be integrated better into the clinical care of chronic pain?