HEALing Communities Study

The HEALing Communities Study (HCS) was the largest addiction prevention and treatment implementation study ever conducted. Launched in 2019, the HEALing Communities Study is the largest addiction prevention and treatment implementation study ever conducted and took place in 67 communities in Kentucky, Massachusetts, New York, and Ohio – four states that have been hard hit by the opioid crisis. Findings will help establish best practices for integrating prevention and treatment strategies that can be adapted by communities nationwide.

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Opioid-Overdose Reduction Continuum of Care Approach Practice Guide

The practice guide includes a menu of evidence-based practices for reducing opioid overdose deaths and real-world tips for implementing the evidence based practices. Drawn from insights gathered through the HEALing Communities Study and informed by community partners, it was developed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

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Engaging Community Coalitions to Decrease Opioid Overdose Deaths Practice Guide

This practice guide can help communities decrease opioid overdose deaths and includes tools and real-world examples that can be used to build and strengthen community coalitions that work to reduce deaths. It was developed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, using insights gathered through the HEALing Communities Study and informed by community partners. 

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How to Build Opioid Data Dashboards for Community Decision-Making

Data dashboards are powerful tools that can support community engagement and decision-making by providing public health surveillance and early detection of emerging health threats, as well as facilitating efficient resource allocation. This webinar explored how data dashboards can facilitate evidence-based decision-making by providing insights into effective approaches, gaps in substance use disorder services, and opportunities to address challenges within communities.

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About the Program

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) launched the HEALing Communities Study (HCS) in 2019 to test the impact of an integrated set of evidence-based interventions for preventing overdose and treating opioid misuse and opioid use disorder in communities highly impacted by the opioid crisis.

The primary aim of the HEALing Communities Study was to determine the impact of a data-driven intervention, known as the Communities That HEAL intervention, that engaged communities to rapidly deploy evidence-based practices to reduce opioid overdose deaths in four states (Kentucky, Massachusetts, New York and Ohio).  

As a part of the Communities That HEAL intervention, researchers collaborated with community coalitions to develop the Opioid-Overdose Continuum of Care Approach (ORCCA) pdf  10.35 MB to facilitate the implementation of the evidence-based strategies related to opioid education and naloxone distribution, medication treatment for opioid use disorder, and safer opioid prescribing and dispensing. A guide describing the ORCCA was subsequently developed to aid other communities throughout the country in implementing these evidence-based practices.

Despite facing unforeseen challenges, the HEALing Communities Study successfully engaged communities to select and implement thousands of evidence-based strategies over the course of the intervention, demonstrating how leveraging community partnerships and using data to inform public health decisions can effectively support the uptake of evidence-based strategies at the local level. View the 2024 press release, following the conclusion of the study.

The HEALing Communities Study was conducted as a cooperative agreement supported by NIDA—part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)—and SAMHSA. Launched in 2019, more than 80 scientific papers from HCS can be viewed on PubMed.

Study Sites

With support from the NIH HEAL Initiative, NIDA awarded $343.7 million to fund the HEALing Communities Study coordinating center and research in four states. 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. 

Participating NIH Institutes, Centers, and Offices