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NCCIH Research Blog

New Grants To Study Behavioral Interventions for Opioid Addiction and Recovery

September 20, 2018

Robin Elizabeth Boineau, M.D., M.A.

Robin Elizabeth Boineau, M.D., M.A.


Office of Clinical and Regulatory Affairs

Medical Officer

Office of Clinical and Regulatory Affairs

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

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Overdose deaths, opioid misuse, addiction to prescription opioids or to illicit drugs such as heroin, and chronic pain management are tough problems that are often related to each other. Together, they form a daunting public health crisis that is of great concern and significance to many in the United States, including the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) and much of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Yesterday, NCCIH announced six awards to study innovative behavioral health approaches to enhance adherence to medications treating opioid use disorder (OUD). Medication assisted therapy, also referred to as MAT, consists of specific medicines that are prescribed by health care professionals for their patients with substance use disorders to reduce future episodes of opioid use. These grants for behavioral intervention studies align with interest at the Center in research on nonpharmacologic approaches and on integration of evidence-based treatments.

In addition to support from NCCIH, funding for these awards will come from the National Institutes of Health’s HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-term) Initiative. All six grants will be administered by NCCIH.

This grant program supplements a $1 billion initiative from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) State Targeted Response (STR) to the Opioid Crisis Grants initiative, also known as Opioid STR grants. As part of the 21st Century Cures Act, Opioid STR grants have been distributed to all 50 U.S. states, U.S. territories, and free-associated states to expand access to evidence-based prevention, treatment, and recovery support services; reduce unmet treatment needs; and help to prevent opioid overdose deaths. The six research awards will examine the impact of behavioral and complementary health interventions within the context of states’ plans for use of Opioid STR grant funds.

The new grants will study:

  • “Mindfulness Oriented Recovery Enhancement” program added to methadone treatment in patients with OUD and chronic pain
  • A portable, scalable telephone intervention to enhance MAT adherence and help manage pain in patients with OUD
  • A mobile app that combines cognitive behavioral therapy with contingency management for improving adherence to MAT
  • A relapse prevention strategy that adds yoga and mindfulness to MAT for pregnant women with OUD
  • A mind and body intervention, “Mindful Awareness in Body-oriented Therapy,” as an adjunct to MAT, to be tested in two clinical settings
  • Mindfulness training for OUD and anxiety, delivered within a group-based treatment program in primary care

NCCIH is funding these studies to assess whether mind and body interventions may improve adherence to known effective therapies to treat OUD and test whether they can also treat painful conditions that require better and safer treatments. We are committed to working with Federal and state partners to address the opioid crisis.

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