Enhancing the National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical Trials Network to Address Opioids
The Research Need
The National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical Trials Network (CTN) was established in 1999 to bridge the gap between research and practice to improve treatment of substance use disorders. It supports rigorous multisite clinical trials to determine the effectiveness of treatment and prevention strategies in a broad range of treatment settings and patient populations. The CTN is organized into multiple nodes located in areas of the country most affected by the opioid crisis and linked by central coordinating centers. Each node conducts research in collaboration with treatment sites that represent the continuum of care for people with substance use disorders.
About the Program
The CTN facilitates collaboration among researchers, medical and treatment providers, patients, and NIH staff to develop, test, and implement new addiction treatments. It expands research into settings that are significantly affected by the opioid crisis but often left out of research projects.
In 2019, the Helping to End Addiction Long-term® Initiative, or NIH HEAL Initiative®, expanded the CTN by funding five additional nodes, strengthening the network by expanding existing studies and starting new research in new locations and settings hit hard by the opioid crisis.
- The Appalachian Node is a collaboration between the University of Pittsburgh and West Virginia University.
- The Great Lakes Node is based at the University of Illinois Chicago.
- The Greater Intermountain Node is based at the University of Utah.
- The Greater Southern California Node is based at the University of California, Los Angeles.
- The Southwest Node is based at the University of New Mexico.
Through these additional nodes, the program is strengthening the CTN’s ability to develop and implement new studies for improving access to high-quality addiction treatment—for example, in general medical settings rather than specialized treatment settings. It is also creating new opportunities for clinical and research training.
See a list of HEAL-funded CTN protocols on the National Institute on Drug Abuse website.
To date, through the Helping to End Addiction Long-term® Initiative, or NIH HEAL Initiative®, NIH has contributed $190.3 million through five awards to establish new CTN nodes:
- Appalachian Node
- Great Lakes Node
- Greater Intermountain Node
- Greater Southern California Node
- Southwest Node
Additional grants were awarded to further expand the CTN’s opioid use disorder research investment through 24 new studies.
Research projects being carried out through the CTN include:
- Evaluating interventions to prevent people who misuse opioids but do not meet criteria for opioid use disorder from developing moderate or severe opioid use disorder
- Comparing two types of medication therapy with buprenorphine for pregnant women with opioid use disorder in real-world settings
- Studying the feasibility of various strategies for initiation of buprenorphine therapy and referral to long-term treatment for patients with opioid use disorder treated in emergency department settings
- Assessing the effectiveness of monthly buprenorphine injections for treatment of methamphetamine use disorder
- Evaluating the feasibility and effectiveness of collaborative care for treating patients with polysubstance use in primary care settings