Preventing Opioid Use Disorder


The Research Need

Older adolescents and young adults (ages 16-30) are at the highest risk for initiation of opioid use, opioid misuse, opioid use disorder (OUD), and death from overdose, and there are no evidence-based interventions to prevent opioid use disorder. In addition, a number of American Indian/Alaskan Native (AI/AN) communities have been significantly impacted by the opioid crisis, and are also at the highest risk for suicide and other behavioral health disorders.

About the Program

NIH is supporting a series of studies to develop and test effective strategies to prevent opioid misuse and OUD among vulnerable populations, including older adolescents and young adults and AI/AN communities. The studies will expand knowledge of characteristics that increase risk or confer protection for opioid use and related behavioral health and drug use outcomes, including suicide. The studies will focus on strategies for settings that can identify and reach at-risk individuals and populations, such as health care, justice, school, and child welfare systems.

Program Details

Through the Helping to End Addiction Long-termSM Initiative, or NIH HEAL InitiativeSM, NIH has awarded 27 research grants as well as funding for a coordinating center to study prevention strategies for at-risk youth transitioning into adulthood, and five supplement awards to facilitate the inclusion of social network characteristics into existing AI/AN studies that address substance use and/or mental health. These awards total approximately $48 million. 

Research Examples

The research being undertaken will:

  • Target adolescent and young adult populations that are at risk of and particularly affected by opioid misuse and OUD, including American Indians/Alaska Natives, homeless individuals, young people in the juvenile or criminal justice system, and families involved in the child welfare system.
  • Create and test strategies to identify at-risk individuals and populations and to deliver prevention interventions and services in health care settings, including emergency departments, school-based health centers, and mental health and substance use behavioral health treatment settings.
  • Develop and test interventions for youth in or transitioning out of justice settings.

Research projects in this program will address implementation and sustainability challenges and include cost evaluation and cost analyses.

Research Institution Awards

  • Boston Medical Center – Massachusetts
  • Brown University – Rhode Island
  • Emory University – Georgia
  • Indian Health Council, Inc. – California
  • Johns Hopkins University – Maryland
  • Kaiser Foundation Research Institute – California
  • Massachusetts General Hospital – Massachusetts
  • New York University School of Medicine – New York
  • Ohio State University – Ohio
  • Oregon Health and Science University – Oregon
  • Oregon Social Learning Center – Oregon
  • RAND Corporation – California
  • Seattle Children’s Hospital – Washington
  • Texas Christian University – Texas
  • University of Colorado, Denver – Colorado 
  • University of Maryland, College Park – Maryland
  • University of Michigan at Ann Arbor – Michigan
  • University of Oregon – Oregon
  • University of Pittsburgh at Pittsburgh – Pennsylvania
  • University of Washington – Washington
  • University of Utah – Utah
  • Washington University – Missouri
  • West Virginia University – West Virginia
  • Yale University – Connecticut

Coordinating Center Award

  • RTI Institute – North Carolina

Funded Projects

The Role of Family Functioning and Race/Ethnicity on the Efficacy of an Opioid Misuse Prevention Videogame Intervention for Adolescents
Sep 25, 2021
Preventing Substance Misuse and Substance Use Disorder by Examining Service Provider Interactions, Discrimination, Ethnic Identity, Sexual Orientation Identity, and Housing First Outcomes
Sep 25, 2021
Optimized Interventions to Prevent Opioid Use Disorder among Adolescents and Young Adults in the Emergency Department
Sep 25, 2021
The moderation effect of social support networks on the relationship between opioid use and suicide attempts among Native American youth in New Mexico
Sep 29, 2020
Social Networks among Native American caregivers participating in an evidence-based and culturally informed intergenerational intervention
Sep 29, 2020

Closed Funding Opportunities

Mentored Research Scientist Development Award (Parent K01)
Sep 25, 2019
HEAL Initiative: Request for Administrative Supplements to Existing Grants to Accelerate Research on Preventing Opioid Use Disorder in Older Adolescents and Young Adults (ages 16-30)
Sep 25, 2019