Behavioral Research to Improve Medication-Based Treatment


The Research Need

Medication-based treatment is an established and effective intervention for people with opioid use disorder (OUD). Medications for people with OUD include methadone, buprenorphine/naloxone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone. However, the people who would benefit from these medications often do not receive them or stay on them only a short time, which limits their chances for long-term recovery.

About the Program

The goal of the Behavioral Research to Improve Medication-Based Treatment (BRIM) program is to support research that assesses whether behavioral interventions can improve outcomes of medication-based treatment.

Specifically, the BRIM program seeks to test the effectiveness of combining medications with a wide range of evidence-based behavioral interventions in diverse groups of patients, including veterans, young adults, low-income individuals, and Latina and Native American women. The behavioral interventions include yoga and mindfulness, cognitive behavioral therapy, multidisciplinary rehabilitation, and mobile health technology.

Researchers hope to determine whether using these interventions in combination with medication improves adherence to medication, improves treatment outcomes, and reduces relapse in individuals seeking treatment for OUD.

Research Spotlight

Illustration depicting the holistic treatment approach of the researchers' project.

Research Spotlight

‘To Walk in the Beauty Way’: Treating Opioid Use Disorder in Native Communities

Research explores the integration of medication-based treatment with the healing traditions of American Indian and Alaska Native communities.

Read the Spotlight

Program Details

To date, through the Helping to End Addiction Long-termSM Initiative, or NIH HEAL InitiativeSM, NIH has awarded nine grants to fund behavioral research aimed at improving medication outcomes through the BRIM program. The awards total approximately $37.9 million.

Research Examples

Some of the research projects will be carried out in the context of treatment services that the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provides for OUD, layering additional research into state efforts to expand access to evidence-based treatment and recovery support services.

Research to be undertaken includes:

  • Refining and adapting a successful telephone-based psychosocial pain management intervention in veterans with OUD and then evaluating its effectiveness in combination with medication
  • Testing mindful awareness in body-oriented therapy as an adjunct to medication in three clinical settings
  • Distributing OUD medication at nontraditional locations, such as emergency departments, jails, and homeless shelters, to improve outcomes and reach underserved individuals
  • Employing peer recovery coaches to support retention in medication-based treatment for low-income, minority individuals with OUD who live in urban settings
  • Developing a novel treatment model that uses psychoeducation, physical exercise, and relaxation training to address OUD and chronic pain in a medication-based treatment center
  • Adapting a cognitive behavioral therapy-based text message system to assist patients with OUD with medication adherence and treatment retention
  • Developing, testing, and comparing two behavioral economics interventions to promote adherence in patients initiating medication-based treatment
  • Evaluating the effects of assisted exercise and cognitive behavioral therapy as adjunctive treatments to medication in adults with OUD and chronic pain who are enrolled in residential treatment programs

  • Brandeis University – Massachusetts
  • Case Western Reserve University – Ohio
  • Maryland Treatment Centers – Maryland
  • University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa – Alabama
  • University of California, Los Angeles – California
  • University of Maryland, College Park – Maryland
  • University of Michigan at Ann Arbor – Michigan
  • University of Tennessee Health Science Center – Tennessee
  • University of Washington – Washington

Funded Projects

A Mindfulness and Peer Mentoring Program to Improve Adherence to Medication Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorders
Sep 25, 2019
Adapting the HOPE Online Support Intervention to Increase MAT Uptake Among OUD Patients
Sep 25, 2019
Comprehensive CBT via reSET for a Hub and Spoke MAT System of Care
Sep 25, 2019
Effect of Mindfulness Training on Opioid Use and Anxiety During Primary Care Buprenorphine Treatment
Sep 25, 2019
The Youth Opioid Recovery Support (YORS) Intervention: An assertive community treatment model for improving medication adherence in young adults with opioid use disorder
Mar 19, 2020

NIH announces awards for behavioral research on OUD prevention and treatment

NIH. National Institutes of Health

NIH announces awards for behavioral research on OUD prevention and treatment

Six research awards totaling $9.4 million over three years will study the impact of behavioral interventions for primary or secondary prevention of opioid use disorder (OUD), or as a complement to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) of OUD.

Read more