A new federal grant awarded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will help McLean Hospital enhance and elevate ongoing efforts to apply evidence-based solutions to the nationwide opioid crisis, which impacted approximately 10.3 million Americans in 2018.

McLean’s award is one of 375 such grants totaling $1 billion through the NIH Helping to End Addiction Long-Term Initiative (NIH HEAL Initiative). The McLean research, also part of the National Institute on Drug Abuse Clinical Trials Network, will center on the use of the medications buprenorphine and naltrexone to treat opioid use disorder (OUD). In partnership with other institutions, investigators at McLean will explore how to increase treatment retention for long-term recovery, as well as optimal tapering methods for successfully treated patients.

“We already have medications that are effective at treating OUD,” explains Roger D. Weiss, MD, Chief of the Substance Use Disorders Division and Director of the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Clinical Research Program at McLean, and a lead investigator for the study. “However, staying on them isn’t always easy, and weaning off of them, for those who choose to do so, can be very difficult. In general, we advise patients to stay on medications, but many want to discontinue them despite that advice. Learning how to advise those patients is very important.”

The NIH HEAL Initiative is focused on translating research into practice for the treatment of opioid use disorder, by identifying new treatment strategies and novel medication options, and uncovering new pain management approaches. Read more on the grant and studies here.