Action Collaborative on Countering the U.S. Opioid Epidemic


The opioid crisis is complex. Together, we can overcome it.

Every day, an estimated 130 Americans die from an opioid overdose – a grim statistic that has devastated families and communities around the nation. Due to the complex and urgent nature of the epidemic, reversing the opioid crisis will require a multi-sectoral and multi-pronged response; no organization, government agency, or sector can solve this crisis on its own.

To improve coordination and accelerate the pace of change, the National Academy of Medicine has partnered with the Aspen Institute and more than 60 participants across the different sectors to form the Action Collaborative on Countering the U.S. Opioid Epidemic, representing critical stakeholder organizations across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. The Action Collaborative is committed to developing, curating, and disseminating multi-sector solutions designed to reduce opioid misuse and improve outcomes for individuals, families, and communities affected by the opioid crisis.

Methadone Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder: Examining Federal Regulations

Methadone, buprenorphine, and extended-release naltrexone are safe and highly effective medications that are already approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat OUD (NASEM, 2019). By alleviating withdrawal symptoms, reducing opioid cravings, or decreasing the response to future drug use, these medications make people with OUD less likely to return to drug use and risk a fatal overdose. These medications also help people restore their functionality, improve their quality of life, and reintegrate into their families and communities. Unfortunately, however, most people who could benefit from medication-based treatment for OUD do not receive it, and access is inequitable across subgroups of the population.

Stringent laws and regulatory policies pose substantial barriers to the provision of and access to methadone treatment. The 2019 National Academies report concluded that current regulations around methadone are not supported by evidence or imposed on life-saving medications for other chronic diseases. This workshop is designed to inform the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) efforts to address these challenges.

NEW! NAM Special Publication

Educating Together, Improving Together: Harmonizing Interprofessional Approaches to Address the Opioid Epidemic

A new NAM Special Publication from the Action Collaborative on Countering the U.S. Opioid Epidemic identifies five action-oriented priorities that address critical professional practice gaps that exist for clinicians treating patients with pain and opioid use disorder. These key priorities underpin progress needed toward the Quadruple Aim of delivering the right care, at the right time, at the right cost, supportive of the well-being of the health care workforce, to more effectively respond to the U.S. opioid crisis. 

Stigma of Addiction Summit

The National Academy of MedicineDell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin, and Shatterproof hosted the Stigma of Addiction Summit: a half-day, virtual, action-oriented summit entirely dedicated to understanding, addressing, and eliminating the harmful impacts of stigma on people who use drugs. The goal of the Summit was to elevate current efforts at reducing stigma, identify successes and gaps in the evidence base, and prioritize and identify areas for future research and funding with an explicit focus on stigma, which is often touched upon only marginally in broader conversations about addiction.

Countering the Opioid Crisis: Time to Act

A new podcast series from NAM and the Aspen Institute

To broaden the reach of the Action Collaborative, the NAM and the Aspen Institute are proud to announce a new podcast series that will expand upon issues critical to reversing the deadly trends of the U.S. opioid epidemic, including the impact of COVID-19, structural racism and the war on drugs, stigma against people with addiction, the promise of improving education and training for health care professionals, and more. Countering the Opioid Crisis: Time to Act will be released monthly at

Listen Now! >>

About the Action Collaborative

The Action Collaborative conducts its work around four core priority areas: Health Professional Education and Training; Pain Management Guidelines and Evidence Standards; Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery Services; and Research, Data, and Metrics Needs.

The Action Collaborative produces discussion papers to advance the field and accelerate action where the evidence dictates; conducts outreach; and leads convenings, webinars, and other special events to accelerate the translation of the most promising opportunities to reverse the opioid crisis. 

Questions? Contact us at

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Supporting People with Addiction During COVID-19

New Research Priorities 

Action Collaborative Extended Through 2022!

Future Directions for the Addiction & OUD Treatment Ecosystem

Action Collaborative Leadership

Victor Dzau, Chair | National Academy of Medicine
Rachel Levine, Co-Chair | U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Ruth Katz, Co-Chair | Aspen Institute
Jonathan Perlin, Co-Chair | HCA Healthcare

Action Collaborative Staff

Elizabeth Finkelman, Director
Aisha Salman, Program Officer
Noah Duff, Associate Program Officer
Radhika Hira, Communications Officer
Emma Freiling, Research Assistant
Bailey Radenbaugh, Senior Program Assistant

Action Collaborative Working Groups

Click here to view members of our four working groups. 


Please visit our events page for a list of past events.


  • Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education
  • Aetna
  • American Hospital Association
  • American Medical Association
  • American Society of Health-System Pharmacists
  • Arnold Ventures
  • Association of American Medical Colleges
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • CDC Foundation
  • Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
  • Council of Medical Specialty Societies
  • Federation of State Medical Boards
  • HCA Healthcare
  • National Association for Behavioral Healthcare
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse
  • The Pew Charitable Trusts
  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
  • Teladoc
  • UnitedHealth Group
  • U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

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