2016-2020 NIDA Strategic Plan
Goal 4: Objective 4.2

Objective 4.2: Assess the impact of federal-, state-, and systems-level policies related to drug use and substance use disorders on public health and well-being

Diverse federal, state, and local laws and policies related to substance use and SUDs have the potential to affect public health and safety. This includes laws and policies that affect health care reimbursement, access to treatments, criminal sentencing, clean needle distribution, naloxone distribution, good Samaritan laws, e-cigarette regulations, marijuana legalization (for medical and/or recreational purposes), drug testing, eligibility for social services, drugged driving, and alcohol and tobacco taxes and regulations. There is a significant need for research on these and other relevant policies to understand their effects on public health and safety, to assess their cost effectiveness, and to describe any unintended consequences to help inform future decision-making.


  • Determine how laws and policies affect drug use trends and prevalence of SUDs
  • Identify impacts of laws and policies on key health and social indicators, such as rates of use of other drugs, tobacco, and alcohol; corollary risk and protective health behaviors; transmitted infections including HIV and HCV; comorbid health conditions and outcomes (cancer, COPD, mental health); truancy, academic performance, and school dropout; crime and criminal justice outcomes; accidents associated with drugged driving; and employment outcomes
  • Track the impact of laws and policies on social norms, attitudes, beliefs, perceptions of harm, and disapproval associated with drug use
  • Measure the economic impact of laws and policies including costs related to health care, criminal justice, and workplace productivity