HEALing Communities Study


The HEALing Communities Study will test the integration of prevention, overdose treatment, and medication-based treatment in select communities hard hit by the opioid crisis. This comprehensive treatment model will be tested in a coordinated array of settings, including primary care, emergency departments, and other community settings. Findings will establish best practices for integrating prevention and treatment strategies that can be replicated by communities nationwide.

About the Program

NIH and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration launched the HEALing Communities Study to investigate how tools for preventing and treating opioid misuse and OUD are most effective at the local level.

This multi-site implementation research study will test the impact of an integrated set of evidence-based practices across health care, behavioral health, justice, and other community-based settings. The goal of the study is to reduce opioid-related overdose deaths by 40 percent over the course of three years. Research sites are partnering with 67 communities highly affected by the opioid crisis in four states to measure the impact of these efforts.

The study will look at the effectiveness of coordinated systems of care designed to increase the number of individuals receiving medication to treat OUD, increase the distribution of naloxone, and reduce high-risk opioid prescribing. The study also supports harm reduction research to investigate the effectiveness of rapid-acting fentanyl test strips in modifying drug use behaviors and exploring drug checking needs in clinical settings.

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Study Sites

Research grant awards were issued to the University of Kentucky in Lexington; Boston Medical Center in Boston; Columbia University in New York City; and Ohio State University in Columbus. The HEALing Communities Study is a multiyear study under a cooperative agreement supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Kentucky map of communities participating in HEALing Communities study.

Kentucky Snapshot

Kentucky is ground zero of the opioid overdose epidemic. Since the 1990s, Kentuckians have been devastated by this unrelenting crisis, and they have persevered in their continued efforts to save lives.

The University of Kentucky has been conducting research to fight the epidemic from its early days. We’ve been very successful doing experiments, collecting data, and demonstrating what’s effective for treating opioid use disorder. But we haven’t been able to fully deploy that knowledge.

Participating Communities 


Bourbon - Campbell - Carter - Greenup - Jefferson - Jessamine - Knox - Mason


More about Kentucky HEALing Communities Project 

Massachusetts map of communities participating in HEALing Communities study.

Massachusetts Snapshot

Boston Medical Center’s research team brings decades of experience treating people with substance use disorder to ending the opioid overdose epidemic across Massachusetts. In collaboration with HEAL communities’ grassroots coalitions, we’re committed to bridging the gaps that prevent people with opioid use disorder from accessing quality care and treatment. 

Participating Communities 

Athol, Greenfield, Montague, & Orange - Berkeley, Dighton, & Freetown - Belchertown & Ware - Lawrence - North Adams - Pittsfield - Springfield - Weymouth

More About Massachusetts HEALing Communities Project

New York map of communities participating in HEALing Communities study.

New York Snapshot

New Yorkers impacted by the opioid overdose epidemic live in rural, suburban, and urban counties that lack resources, service integration, and access to data that could help them turn the tide on the crisis. Columbia University is working hard to bring attention and innovation to these highly affected communities to reverse the alarming increase in opioid overdose deaths they have seen in recent years.

Participating Communities


Broome - Chautauqua - Cortland - Genesee - Monroe - Orange - Sullivan - Yates


More About New York HEALing Communities Project

Ohio map of communities participating in HEALing Communities study.

Ohio Snapshot

The Ohio State University is partnering with the University of Cincinnati, Case Western Reserve University, Ohio University, the University of Toledo, Wright State University, RecoveryOhio, and Ohio communities to assemble a research team that embodies a collaborative spirit, reflects strong institutional identity, uplifts family and community values, and honors diverse demographic and ideological identities.

Participating Communities


Allen County - Brown County - Franklin County - Huron County - Jefferson County - Ross County - Stark County - Williams County - Wyandot County


More About Ohio HEALing Communities Project



Coronavirus Response

Local Opioid Crisis Resources

To find local resources about the opioid crisis, please visit your community’s page under your state's snapshot above.

National Health Resources

Click on the following links to find resources about coronavirus (COVID-19) to help individuals, people with substance use disorders and in recovery, providers, the justice system, communities, and states across the country:

Participating NIH Institutes, Centers, and Offices

Research Institutions

  • Boston Medical Center – Massachusetts
  • Columbia University – New York
  • The Ohio State University – Ohio
  • University of Kentucky – Kentucky

Data Coordinating Center

  • RTI International – North Carolina

Funded Projects

Research Supplement to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research under MassHEAL - Reducing overdose deaths by 40% (2019-2023)
Sep 25, 2021
HEALing Communities Study - Kentucky
Mar 19, 2020
HEALing Communities Study - Ohio
Mar 19, 2020
HEALing Communities Study Data Coordinating Center
Mar 19, 2020
HEALing Communities Study - Massachusetts
Mar 19, 2020

Closed Funding Opportunities

HEALing Communities Study: Developing and Testing an Integrated Approach to Address the Opioid Crisis (Data Coordinating Center) (UM1- Clinical Trials Not Allowed)
Sep 25, 2019
HEALing Communities Study: Developing and Testing an Integrated Approach to Address the Opioid Crisis (Research Sites) (UM1 - Clinical Trial Required)
Sep 25, 2019
Logo of the Joe Piscopo Show, featuring an image of Joe Piscopo

Dr. Baker on the HEALing Communities Study

Director of the HEAL Initiative Dr. Rebecca Baker discusses the HEALing Communities Study on AM 970's The Joe Piscopo Show.

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Dr. Francis Collins

Fighting the opioid crisis: NIH HEAL initiative takes on addiction and pain management

More than 115 Americans die from opioid overdose every day. That's four times higher than the number of opioid overdose deaths that occurred 20 years ago.

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