Multidisciplinary research to combat the costs of opioid misuse

In 2021, more than 8.7 million Americans reported misusing prescription opioids. Many people report misusing prescription opioids before starting to use heroin, a powerful opiate drug that nearly 1.1 million people use in the U.S. Each year, more than 68,000 Americans die from opioid overdoses. 

Prescription opioids, such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine and codeine, play a critical role in helping millions of people effectively manage chronic pain. But for some, opioids have become a complex, tangled cycle of misuse and abuse that has led to a devastating costs both to human life and economic impact of addiction. For more than 30 years we’ve studied the use of illegal drugs, including heroin and the nonmedical use of opioid pain relievers. We have collaborated with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) on the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) since 1988 and have recently worked with SAMHSA to update and improve survey questions on opioid use in the United States.

With decades of NSDUH experience as a foundation, we are exploring multidisciplinary approaches to addressing the scope of the opioid epidemic from a number of key angles.

Our experts are studying prevention and public communication tactics, strategies to reach out to at-risk and vulnerable populations, the scope of the opioid overdose epidemic and its economic impact, and the cost-benefits of various treatment programs. Our experts are also conducting research into cutting-edge treatments for habitual opioid users as well as those dealing with chronic, unmanageable pain.

We are uniquely equipped to support the full spectrum of efforts to combat this epidemic—including treatment, prevention, intervention, pain management, and public communication. We believe there’s only one way to successfully handle a situation this complex: with a coordinated response from every angle.

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