Cascade of Care model recommended for opioid crisis

Science Spotlight

Cascade of Care model

A team of NIDA-funded scientists has offered a critical look at how to build an improved framework of care for the identification and treatment of people with opioid use disorder (OUD).

Building upon the successful Cascade of Care model developed in 2017 to manage patients with HIV and AIDS, the study authors lay out a plan to expand OUD prevention and care at the state and federal levels, while customizing services to fit the unique needs of individuals and their communities. The authors recommend a framework that encompasses four interrelated domains: prevention, identification, treatment and recovery. People at varying stages of risk and need reside at various points within that cascading framework.

A broad, national OUD Cascade of Care framework consistently applied across states could provide a structural model to help communities identify which population group needs what kind of intervention. Identifying the challenges encountered by patients at each stage of the Cascade can target clinical and policy interventions at federal and state levels to improve treatment outcomes and reduce related diseases and deaths.

The authors recommend additional attention to prevention efforts as well as improved dissemination of individual-level and population-based services to better inform both policymakers and health care coordinators. 

For a copy of the paper, published in The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, go to Development of a Cascade of Care for responding to the opioid epidemic.

For more information about opioids, go to: Opioids and Treatment.

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NIDA Press Office

About the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): NIDA is a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIDA supports most of the world’s research on the health aspects of drug use and addiction. The Institute carries out a large variety of programs to inform policy, improve practice, and advance addiction science. For more information about NIDA and its programs, visit

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