2022-2026 NIDA Strategic Plan

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.

NIDA’s research advances fundamental knowledge and provides scientific evidence to inform individual and public health, including the policies and practices of other federal agencies; state and local health, education, and human services; and the legal system. As such, the FY 2022-2026 NIDA Strategic Plan was developed with multiple audiences in mind, including academic researchers, small businesses and other industry partners, federal and state policymakers, providers, individuals affected by SUDs and their families, and other stakeholders.

The strategic plan focuses on scientific opportunities to meet current public health needs, yet NIDA acknowledges that the landscape of drug use and addiction is always changing and that scientific breakthroughs can alter the course of research. Over the next five years, NIDA will continue to support cutting-edge research across all facets of our scientific portfolio, informed by people with lived experience with drug use and addiction, while remaining nimble enough to take advantage of new scientific opportunities and address emerging public health challenges. Recognizing the deep racial health inequities that exist in the field of addiction, NIDA is redoubling its focus on reducing—and ultimately, eliminating—these disparities. Understanding the role of racism on substance use and its outcomes is essential to our mission and will continue to be a key focus of our research and policy efforts (see callout box below - ”NIDA’s Racial Equity Initiative".)

NIDA’s Racial Equity Initiative

From racist violence to the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black Americans, racial injustice persists in our society and is particularly evident in the field of addiction, where punitive approaches to drug use are unevenly applied to Black individuals and other communities of color, and racial discrimination and trauma are significant contributors to substance use, addiction, and suboptimal treatment.

Science is not immune to racial injustice. People of color face an array of unique challenges beginning early in their education, and fewer ultimately pursue scientific careers. Structural inequities in scientific institutions can produce unexamined biases in research and exclude people of color from the scientific workforce, both of which contribute to health disparities.

In July 2020, NIDA established NIDA’s Racial Equity Initiative (REI) to organize NIDA’s efforts to eliminate racial inequities in NIDA’s research portfolio, the addiction science workforce, and the NIDA workplace, and NIDA will be dedicating at least $100 million in addition to existing investments over 10 years to this work. Based on the efforts of NIDA’s REI workgroups, NIDA is increasing its support for highly meritorious projects carried out by scientists from underrepresented groups; supporting research to understand and address the impact of racism on risk for substance use, drug use outcomes, and disparities in SUD care; and implementing culturally tailored interventions and solutions to address digital inequalities in communities heavily impacted by addiction. NIDA’s REI is also developing programs to engage underrepresented groups in science, starting in kindergarten and providing training and career development throughout their scientific careers.

NIDA’s strategic plan includes five Priority Scientific Areas that address NIDA’s priorities in basic science and behavioral research, intervention development, implementation science, and translational research:

Within each Priority Scientific Area, Goals reflect targeted areas of emphasis to grow our portfolio and speed progress toward achieving our mission. Each Goal is broken down into Key Focus Areas, which reflect research opportunities as well as concrete activities NIDA will undertake in pursuit of that Goal.

Scientific Stewardship and Management and Accountability Priorities focus on how NIDA as a federal agency fosters excellent stewardship of the public funds it receives and effectively administers its research and training programs, including cultivating a highly skilled and diverse research workforce.

NIDA’s strategic plan also includes the following Cross-Cutting Priorities, which span NIDA’s diverse portfolio and will contribute substantially to our mission over the next 5 years.