U.S. health officials’ new plan to fight the opioid crisis: Stop chronic pain before it starts

The National Institutes of Health revealed its new plan to tackle the opioid crisis, which it dubbed the Helping to End Addiction Long-term, or HEAL, initiative. Among the ideas presented are research programs devoted to better understanding chronic pain, developing new non-opioid painkillers and addiction treatments, and speeding up the clinical trial process to test out these potential drugs.

The plan was detailed in the pages of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) by Francis Collins, NIH director, Walter J. Koroshetz, director of the NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and Nora Volkow, director of the NIH’s National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The plan is comprised of two main parts: funding for projects that will help develop or facilitate treatments for opioid addiction and overdose, and funding for programs meant to improve the management of pain via research into how acute pain becomes chronic pain (with the hope that someday we can stop that from happening), as well as the development of new, nonaddictive pain treatments.

Ed Cara/Gizmodo