Action Collaborative on Combatting Substance Use and Opioid Crises

The substance use crisis is complex. Together, we can overcome it.


Call for Applications: Core Competency Implementation Pilot Project

About the Program

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.

Important Definitions
Hover over the phrases for more information

The use of drugs (including opioids), alcohol, or other substances in ways that can adversely affect an individual's health and well-being
 A treatable health condition marked by challenges in managing substance use despite harmful consequences that affects a person's well-being and quality of life.
A critical public health challenge characterized by escalating rates of substance misuse and overdose deaths, causing significant health, social, and economic harms for individuals, families, and communities, such as the opioid crisis.

These are guiding definitions that characterize our work, not official definitions of the NAM.

More about Substance Use and the Action Collaborative

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.

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.

Program Highlights

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


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



  • 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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