2022-2026 NIDA Strategic Plan
Executive Summary

NIDA’s Mission

NIDA’s mission is to advance science on drug use and addiction and to apply that knowledge to improve individual and public health through:

  • Strategically supporting and conducting basic, clinical, and epidemiological research on drug use, its consequences, and the underlying neurobiological, behavioral, and social mechanisms involved.
  • Ensuring the effective translation, implementation, and dissemination of scientific research findings to improve the prevention and treatment of SUDs, reduce the harms associated with drug use, guide policies, enhance public awareness of addiction as a chronic but treatable medical illness and reduce stigma.


This strategic plan reflects NIDA’s commitment to advancing all aspects of addiction science - from basic to translational, clinical, and health services research - in the service of enhancing fundamental knowledge and improving people’s lives. Today’s landscape of substance use poses both unique challenges and unprecedented opportunities to leverage the profound potential of science toward those goals. While we have made impressive progress, there is more to be done.

Over the next five years, NIDA will continue to support cutting-edge research informed by people with lived experience across all facets of our scientific portfolio, while remaining nimble enough to take advantage of new scientific opportunities and address emerging public health needs.

Strategic Plan Framework

  • Cross-Cutting Priorities (inner circle) reflect key priorities that are critical across NIDA’s scientific portfolio.
  • Priority Scientific Areas (outer circles) articulate how NIDA will advance research across its portfolio to build fundamental knowledge and address the evolving addiction and overdose crisis.
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Cross-Cutting Priorities

Cross-cutting Priorities span NIDA’s portfolio and will contribute substantially to our mission over the next five years:

Priority Scientific Area 1: Understand Drugs, the Brain, and Behavior

Basic and behavioral research are transforming our understanding of drug use and addiction. Research has made significant advances in understanding how the brain functions, how drugs interact with brain processes, and how SUDs develop and resolve. Epidemiological studies have provided insight into how substance use patterns evolve and relate to risk and protective factors, while policy research has illuminated how laws and regulations related to drug use impact health. NIDA will continue to support research in each of these areas, with a focus on the following goals:

Priority Scientific Area 2: Develop and Test Novel Prevention, Treatment, Harm Reduction, and Recovery Support Strategies

Developing new and improved pharmacological and non-pharmacological strategies to prevent and treat SUDs, reduce adverse outcomes associated with drug use, and support long-term recovery of people following treatment are top priorities for NIDA research. As our understanding of addiction evolves, there are increasing opportunities to make interventions more holistic, nuanced, and dynamic, similar to interventions for other medical illnesses. NIDA’s goals for intervention research include:

Priority Scientific 3: Accelerate Research on the Intersection of Substance Use, HIV, and Related Comorbidities

Despite scientific advances, rates of HIV remain unacceptably high. Substance use plays a significant role in HIV transmission, and indeed the opioid crisis has been associated with marked increases in the number of people who inject drugs in the U.S. and with localized HIV outbreaks. NIDA has long recognized the intertwined nature of substance use and HIV and will continue to support innovative and multidisciplinary research in this area. NIDA goals for HIV research include:

Priority Scientific Area 4: Improve the Implementation of Evidence-Based Strategies in Real-World Settings

Although effective interventions exist for preventing and treating substance use and SUDs, their reach has been limited. To scale up research-based interventions in diverse settings, it is essential to understand and address the many factors that promote or impede implementation. NIDA will continue to support a robust implementation science portfolio aimed at bridging the gaps among research, practice, and policy with a focus on the following goals:

Priority Scientific Area 5: Translate Research into Innovative Health Applications

NIDA is a leader in leveraging the power of small-business innovation to develop new tools and technologies for preventing, diagnosing, and treating SUD. To continue to innovate in this space, NIDA’s goals include:

Description of Strategic Plan Graphic

A series of circles referencing the Priority Areas surrounding a center circle describing the Cross Cutting Priorities of:

  • Research Training
  • Stigma
  • Sex and Gender Differences
  • Health Disparities
  • Comorbidities
  • Data Science
  • Personalized Interventions

Top Priority Circle - Understanding Drugs, the Brain and Behavior references:

  • Neuroscience
  • Neurocircuitry
  • Behavior
  • Social Determinants
  • Epidemiology
  • Genetics/Epigenetics
  • Development
  • Pharmacology

Next Priority Circle - Prevention, Treatment and Recovery references:

  • Prevention
  • Treatment
    • Medications
    • Biologicals
    • Neuromodulation
    • Behavioral Therapeutics
  • Recovery
  • Harm Reduction

Next Priority Circle - Intersection of Substance Use and HIV references:

  • Mechanisms of HIV and SUD
  • HIV Prevention
  • SUD and HIV Treatment
  • Comorbidities

Next Priority Circle - Implementation Science references:

  • Service Delivery
  • Models of Care
  • Access to Care
  • Sustainability
  • Implementation
  • Policy
  • Health Economics

Final Priority Circle - Innovative Health Applications references:

  • Product Development
  • Tools and Technologies
  • Public-Private Partnerships