Opioids & Substance Use

The AHRQ Academy provides information to support those who are implementing medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder in primary care settings.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Opioid Initiative   

Special Emphasis Notice: AHRQ Announces Interest in Health Services Research to Address the Opioids Crisis

AHRQ released a notice soliciting health services research grant applications that aim to improve understanding of the opioid crisis and provide solutions to address it.

Pulling Back the Curtain on the Casualties of Today's Opioids Crisis

This blog post from AHRQ describes recent research findings and reports from the agency, emphasizing that the opioid epidemic is affecting all communities and populations across the country.

Any Use and Frequent Use of Opioids among Elderly Adults in 2015–2016, by Socioeconomic Characteristics

This statistical brief from AHRQ explores prescription opioid use among older adults in relation to socioeconomic status, health status, and insurance coverage.

Opioid-Related Inpatient Stays and Emergency Department Visits Among Patients Aged 65 Years and Older, 2010 and 2015

This statistical brief from AHRQ highlights the impact of opioids on hospital services utilization among older adults in the United States.

2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released the results of the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, including the detailed tables and the Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators report

Science to Medicine: Medication Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder

This toolkit from the National Institute on Drug Abuse provides information on how providers can get started in providing MAT and other recovery support services.

Telemedicine and Prescribing Buprenorphine for the Treatment of Opioid Use Disorder (PDF—118 KB)

This brief from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services discusses how providers can use telemedicine to increase access to medication-assisted treatment in a manner consistent with applicable guidance and regulations.

Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Spotlight on Opioids (PDF—2.2 MB)

This updated report from the Office of the Surgeon General provides an overview of the latest data on the opioid epidemic in the United States.

Healthy Pregnancy Healthy Baby Fact Sheets

This fact sheet series from SAMHSA highlights the importance of continuing treatment for opioid use disorder during pregnancy.

Opportunities to Prevent Overdose Deaths Involving Prescription and Illicit Opioids, 11 States, July 2016–June 2017

This study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describes the circumstances and substances involved in opioid-related overdose deaths and identifies strategies to improve prevention efforts.   

FDA Approves New Dosage Strength of Buprenorphine and Naloxone Sublingual Film as Maintenance Treatment for Opioid Dependence

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the approval of a new dosage of buprenorphine-naloxone sublingual film for the treatment of opioid use disorder.

Keeping Faith: Bringing Hope and Healing in the Midst of the Opioid Crisis

This blog post from the U.S. Surgeon General describes the role of and opportunities for faith-based communities to help fight the opioid epidemic and support those in recovery from opioid use disorder.

Preventing an Opioid Overdose Tip Card

This CDC guide describes the signs and symptoms of an opioid overdose and the actions an observer should take.

Preventing Prescription Opioid Overdoses in New York State

This blog post from CDC describes strategies and lessons learned from the implementation of a public awareness campaign by the New York State Department of Health. 

Integrating Infectious Disease Prevention and Treatment into the Opioid Response

This blog post from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services describes the need to address increases in infectious diseases as part of the comprehensive national opioid strategy.

HHS Opioids Series – Patient Stories

This blog series shares personal stories about individual’s own experiences coping with opioid use disorder, managing chronic pain, or losing a loved one to an opioid-related overdose.

Naloxone Administration Frequency During Emergency Medical Service Events — United States, 2012–2016

This CDC study finds that the rate of naloxone administration increased approximately 75 percent between 2012 and 2016.

Tools & Resources

Overdose Reversal Toolkit

This toolkit from the Addiction Policy Forum provides information, training, and other resources on how to identify and respond to an overdose.

Educational Packages for Opioid Use Disorders

These toolkits from the Addiction Technology Transfer Network provide resources on how the behavioral health workforce (specifically peer support workers, counselors and psychologists, and social workers) can help those with opioid use disorders.

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome and Maternal Access to Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder in California Counties (PDF—1.3 MB)

This report from the Urban Institute examines the incidence of neonatal abstinence syndrome and access to MAT for opioid use disorder among pregnant women across California.

The Intersection of Opioid Abuse, Overdose, and Suicide: Understanding the Connections

This SAMHSA webinar available from the Suicide Prevention Resource Center explores the relationships between opioid abuse, overdose, and suicide and the need for cross-sector collaboration to address them.

Overcoming Data-Sharing Challenges in the Opioid Epidemic: Integrating Substance Use Disorder Treatment in Primary Care (PDF—.67 MB)

This report from the California Health Care Foundation summarizes the requirements of Federal substance use disorder confidentiality regulations and strategies to enhance information sharing.

The Role of Community Health Centers in Addressing the Opioid Epidemic

This issue brief from the Kaiser Family Foundation provides an overview of the findings from a 2018 survey of community health centers on work related to the prevention and treatment of opioid use disorder.

The Addiction Series

This animated series from the Addiction Policy Forum aims to increase public awareness and understanding of addiction.

Integrating Responses at the Intersection of Opioid Use Disorder and Infectious Disease Epidemics

This report of conference proceedings from a workshop held by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine describes the relationship between the increase in prevalence of infectious diseases and injection drug use.

Research Findings

Changes in Buprenorphine-Naloxone and Opioid Pain Reliever Prescriptions After the Affordable Care Act Medicaid Expansion

This study in JAMA Network concludes Medicaid expansion under the U.S. Affordable Care Act is associated with increased access to buprenorphine-naloxone to treat opioid use disorder.

Medicaid Benefits for Addiction Treatment Expanded After Implementation of the Affordable Care Act

This study in Health Affairs explores the impact of the Affordable Care Act on the expansion of addiction treatment benefits and utilization controls in alternative benefit plans.

Receipt of Timely Addiction Treatment and Association of Early Medication Treatment With Retention in Care Among Youths With Opioid Use Disorder

This study in JAMA Pediatrics examines service utilization of MAT for youths diagnosed with opioid use disorder and whether receipt of medication within 3 months of diagnosis is related to retention in care.

Opioid Prescribing in the United States Before and After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's 2016 Opioid Guideline

This study in Annals of Internal Medicine finds a greater decline in opioid prescribing associated with the release of the CDC prescribing guidelines.

Sequential Intercept Mapping: Developing Systems-Level Solutions for the Opioid Epidemic

This study in Psychiatric Services explores the use of sequential intercept mapping to identify opportunities to develop community-based responses to the opioid epidemic.

Help-Seeking Barriers and Facilitators for Affected Family Members of a Relative With Alcohol and Other Drug Misuse: A Qualitative Study

This study in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment explores barriers and facilitators to help seeking for substance use disorders.

U.S. Adults With Opioid Use Disorder Living With Children: Treatment Use and Barriers To Care

This study in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment finds most adults with opioid use disorder who live with a child often do not receive any substance use treatment because of their unique needs.

Persistence/Recurrence and Remission From DSM-5 Substance Use Disorders in the United States: Substance-Specific and Substance-Aggregated Correlates

This study in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment examines the associations between the persistence/recurrence of and remission from substance use disorders and demographic and psychosocial factors.

Mobilizing Community Support in People Receiving Opioid-Agonist Treatment: A Group Approach

This study in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment evaluates an intervention that helps patients receiving MAT for opioid use disorder create a Social Network Activation Group of family and friends who do not use substances.

Comparison Between Buprenorphine Provider Availability and Opioid Deaths Among U.S. Counties

This study in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment finds limited availability of buprenorphine providers relative to opioid-related overdose deaths in the Midwestern and Southern regions of the United States.

Increased Distance Was Associated With Lower Daily Attendance to an Opioid Treatment Program in Spokane County Washington

This study in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment finds a correlation between the distance to an opioid treatment program and the number of missed doses within the first month of treatment.

Trends in Opioid Use and Prescribing in Medicare, 2006–2012

This study in Health Services Research finds opioid use among Medicare beneficiaries was relatively stable from 2006 to 2012, with the distribution of opioid use shifting to those with diagnoses typically associated with chronic pain.

Health-Related Quality of Life Among Chronic Opioid Users, Nonchronic Opioid Users, and Nonopioid Users With Chronic Noncancer Pain

This study in Health Services Research evaluates the relationship between opioid use and measures of health-related quality of life among patients with chronic, noncancer pain.

Association of Hydrocodone Schedule Change With Opioid Prescriptions Following Surgery

This study in JAMA Surgery concludes changing hydrocodone-containing analgesics from schedule III to schedule II may increase the amount of opioids initially prescribed after surgery.  

Opioid Prescribing Decreases After Learning of a Patient's Fatal Overdose

This study in Science finds clinicians who were notified of patients’ opioid-involved deaths and received a safe prescribing injunction from the county’s medical examiner were subsequently more likely to prescribe lower doses of opioids.

Documented Pain Diagnoses in Adults Prescribed Opioids: Results From the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, 2006–2015

This study in Annals of Internal Medicine finds many outpatient visits that resulted in opioid prescriptions often were not associated with an accompanying pain diagnosis.


Visit the events calendar to find webinars, conferences, and workshops related to opioid use disorder and substance use.


Addressing the Opioid Epidemic in Rural America

This article in Psychiatric Services describes the experiences of Hancock County, Ohio, in increasing access to treatment for opioid use disorder and reducing opioid-involved overdose deaths.

Opioids: From Being a Doctor to Being a Patient

This column in Psychiatric Services describes the personal experience of a physician managing pain with prescription opioids after recovering from spinal surgery.


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