In 2018, with support from the administration and the U.S. Congress, NIH launched the Helping to End Addiction Long-term® Initiative, or NIH HEAL Initiative®, to provide scientific solutions to the opioid crisis and offer new hope for individuals, families, and communities affected by this devastating crisis. HEAL is a highly collaborative effort that involves close input from NIH program staff and leadership.

Publications and Data: Results of NIH HEAL Research

The concept of open science — ensuring the accessibility of published research to all stakeholders — is a top HEAL priority. All HEAL data must be Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable (FAIR), and the initiative requires all funded researchers to make their HEAL-funded research publications freely accessible to the public immediately.

Research Programs by Focus Area

The HEAL Research Plan resulted from a 1-year consultative effort between NIH and stakeholders. The initiative developed research focus areas that reflect urgent unmet needs across the lifespan, areas of scientific promise, and concrete strategies capable of providing rapid and durable solutions to the opioid crisis.

Enhanced Outcomes for Infants and Children Exposed to Opioids

HEAL research addresses the medical and social needs of individuals across the lifespan, including infants, children, and pregnant women. The initiative supports research to inform clinical care for infants diagnosed with opioid withdrawal syndrome and is monitoring the health effects of early exposure to opioids, other substances, and life experiences.

Mother embracing child

Novel Therapeutic Options for Opioid Use Disorder and Overdose

HEAL research expands treatment options for people who use drugs by developing new versions of effective medications and novel immunotherapies for opioids and other drugs. The initiative also supports research to scan for emerging opioid threats as well as to better understand and manage oral complications from medications for opioid use disorder.

man in doctor's office

Preclinical and Translational Research in Pain Management

HEAL research aims to encourage industry interest in developing new pain medications. This research funds individual scientists and teams to search for new targets as well as test and optimize potential new medications. The initiative also develops various technologies for pain management and provides research tools that mimic human biology and body joints commonly involved in pain.

two researchers working

Cross-Cutting Research

HEAL supports research cutting across multiple scientific disciplines, including data science, research on approaches to combat stigma, workforce development, and patient and community engagement efforts. The HEAL small business program supports research to harness innovation across the country.

moving hands of individuals sitting in a group