National Academy of Medicine Action Collaborative on Combatting Substance Use and Opioid Crises


     The substance use crisis is complex.

     Together, we can overcome it.


Every day, an estimated 260 Americans lose their lives to drug-related overdoses, leaving families and communities across the nation devastated. While the substances involved continue to change, the overdose crisis persists.

To effectively address this evolving public health challenge, our strategies and approaches must also change. By taking a comprehensive and adaptive approach, incorporating ongoing research, improving access to prevention and treatment, collaborating across sectors, and conducting meaningful community engagement to support those affected by addiction, we can change the course of this devastating crisis, save lives, and forge a healthier future for our nation.


     About the Action Collaborative

To improve coordination and accelerate the pace of change, the National Academy of Medicine has partnered with more than 80 organizations to form the Action Collaborative on Combatting Substance Use and Opioid Crises. This initiative brings together key stakeholders from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to collaboratively address critical issues posed by addiction.

The Action Collaborative is committed to proactively driving structural change by developing, curating, and implementing comprehensive, multi-sector solutions designed to reduce substance misuse and improve outcomes for individuals, families, and communities affected by addiction.

Solving this crisis demands a collaborative effort. No single organization, government agency, or sector possesses the necessary expertise and resources to tackle this complex public health crisis alone. By joining forces, we can overcome the challenges of addiction and pave the way for a healthier and safer future for all.


     About Our Work

History of the Action Collaborative

In Phase I (2018–2020), the Action Collaborative convened over 60 key entities to address some of the highest-priority elements in the nation’s response to the opioid crisis, including: health professional education and training; pain management guidelines and evidence standards; prevention, treatment, and recovery services; and research, data, and metrics needs. In addressing these focus areas, the Action Collaborative developed tools and resources that: strengthened the continuum of health professional education to prepare clinicians to effectively manage pain and treat opioid use disorder (OUD); highlighted best practices, research gaps, and future priorities for improving pain management practices; identified priorities to support prevention, treatment, and recovery services and helped prepare the nation’s health system to better meet the needs of individuals with OUD; and supported communities and individuals experiencing addiction and pain throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Phase II (2020–2022), the Action Collaborative continued to build on its focus areas from Phase I while evolving to address the changing crisis. The Action Collaborative developed a wide range of products, including publications, podcasts, patient-centered resources, and frameworks while also holding strategic convenings such as webinars, workshops, and thematic meetings. Together, the products and convenings from Phase II advanced progress across the Action Collaborative’s focus areas, including challenges posed by COVID-19. The Action Collaborative also began to expand its work to include substances beyond opioids in response to the growing impact of fentanyl and illicit drugs on the overdose crisis. The Action Collaborative’s work informed federal priorities, advanced national research initiatives, supported health system change, and positioned the Action Collaborative to continue leading a unified systems response to the substance use crisis.

During Phase III (2022–present), the Action Collaborative is focused on addressing the evolving nature of the substance use and opioid crisis and leading action that will create a sustainable response into the future. To achieve its goals, the Action Collaborative’s Phase III strategy focuses on advancing health equity, catalyzing data-driven implementation efforts, and developing a framework to address future substance use crises. In Phase III, the Action Collaborative will operationalize its work through three interrelated working groups: education, practice, and health systems; prevention, data, and research; and substance use disorder framework.


     Action Collaborative Systems Map

The systems map depicts the Action Collaborative’s stakeholder groups and is used to prioritize high-impact opportunities for collective action. This map illustrates the necessity of a systems approach to combatting this crisis, as well as the contributions of various stakeholders. It also shows the need for enhanced coordination and alignment, underscoring the important role the Action Collaborative plays in this broader ecosystem, primarily through its convening power.


     Recent Updates from the Action Collaborative on Combatting Substance Use and Opioid Crises

Integrating Telehealth and Traditional Care in Chronic Pain Management and Substance Use Disorder Treatment: An Action Agenda for Building the Future State of Hybrid Care

A new Discussion Paper outlines an action agenda to guide and support the development of hybrid care models for chronic pain and SUD management. A four-part meeting series convened by the Action Collaborative served as a forum to explore the barriers and opportunities for expanding telehealth and virtual care services in pain management and OUD/SUD care and informed the creation of the action agenda. Discussion Proceedings capturing key themes and future action priorities are also available for the first three meetings in the series.

Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Prevention of Substance Use Disorders Through Socioecological Strategies

A new Discussion Paper uses a socioecological approach to unpack the complex interplay between individual, interpersonal, societal, and structural factors that contribute to the development of SUD and overdose risk. The authors identify strategies and interventions across the continuum of SUD prevention that will be useful to policymakers, funders, service providers, and community leaders in understanding opportunities to address social and structural factors contributing to rising SUD and overdose trends.

Updated Research Agenda

The Action Collaborative released an updated list of cross-sectoral research priorities designed to forge a responsive, evidence-based, and equity-informed path to reversing the deadly trends of the substance use crisis. The research agenda encourages additional research into innovative approaches to addressing the crisis, as well as focusing on telehealth for SUD and chronic pain management, in recognition of the surge in telehealth and virtual care services during COVID-19. The updated research agenda aims to serve as a guide for public, private, and non-profit institutions and funders to advance needed solutions for the evolving substance use crisis.

Action Collaborative Leadership

Victor Dzau, Chair | National Academy of Medicine
Ruth Katz, Co-Chair | Aspen Institute
ADM Rachel Levine, Co-Chair | U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Richard Migliori, Co-Chair | UnitedHealth Group

Action Collaborative Staff

Aisha Salman, Director
Bram Bond, Program Specialist
Noah Duff, Associate Program Officer
Emma Freiling, Research Associate
Radhika Hira, Communications Officer


  • 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
  • CDC Foundation
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • 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

Questions? Contact us at

The Action Collaborative serves as a neutral platform through which to facilitate dialogue and discussion among representatives from multiple sectors around topics of mutual interest and concern. Individual participating members of the Action Collaborative on Combatting Substance Use and Opioid Crises have disclosed any perceived or actual interests (financial, organizational, professional, or personal in nature) relevant to the activities of the Action Collaborative. Summaries of relevant interests reported can be found here.

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