NIDA Seeks Public Input for Our 2021-2025 Strategic Plan

Twice each decade, NIDA (like other NIH Institutes and NIH as a whole) drafts a strategic plan to guide its research and funding decisions. NIDA’s strategic plan is meant to be a high-level articulation of our principles and priorities over the next five years, and how we intend to apply them to capitalize on exciting opportunities or break down research barriers. NIDA has begun drafting its strategic plan for 2021-2025, and to best inform that process, we are seeking input from the public and the scientific community.

Hand dropping paper in slot of suggestion box

The current outline includes elements ranging from basic science to generate knowledge about the brain and how drugs affect it, to clinical, implementation and policy research in healthcare, justice, and other settings. Translational science will accelerate deployment of research findings to inform policy and practice. Specifically, the plan has three main goals:

  • Understand Drug Use, Addiction, and the Brain.
  • Develop and Test Novel Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery Support Strategies.
  • Implement Evidence-Based Strategies in Real-World Settings.

The goals also share three major cross-cutting research approaches identified in the strategic plan outline: leveraging knowledge, technology and innovation, capitalizing on big data analytics and open data sharing, and developing models that capture the real-world complexity of substance use (for instance, use of multiple substances).

We have also identified four topics that straddle multiple goals and that merit specific focus in the years to come: finding ways to reduce the stigma around substance use and use disorders; finding ways to reduce health disparities; understanding sex/gender differences related to substance use and addiction; and understanding the relationships between substance use and other co-occurring conditions like HIV, pain, and mental illness.

The strategic plan is not intended as an exhaustive or prescriptive list of everything NIDA will be doing and funding. NIDA will remain committed to supporting promising research based on investigators’ ideas even when those fall outside these priority areas of focus. But the plan serves as an overarching vision to shape addiction science through our activities over the next five years, as well as a constant reminder of top research topics to address as they appear from our vantage point in the present.

The strategic plan will also have a section outlining how NIDA intends to responsibly steward its public funds over the next five years. Key focus areas including promoting high quality research training and a diverse research workforce, effectively translating and disseminating NIDA-funded research to inform policy and practice, fostering collaboration with public and private partners, supporting the development of a cutting-edge research infrastructure, and doing everything possible to enhance the rigor and reproducibility of scientific evidence.

For more information, including the complete draft outline and instructions for contributing comments, see NIDA’s request for Information (RFI). Again, members of the public as well as the research community are strongly encouraged to respond. Responses are due August 7th to the NIDA Strategic Plan inbox as noted in the RFI.

NOTE: To be considered by the NIDA Strategic Planning Committee, comments must be emailed to

Dr. Nora Volkow, Director

Here I highlight important work being done at NIDA and other news related to the science of drug use and addiction.

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2021 - 2025 strategic plan

I would like to see the opposition to marijuana legalization relaxed. Admittedly marijuana can adversely affect some people, but the overall benefit to risk ratio is in favor of legalization. The anti-marijuana laws dating back to the 1930s had a racist intent. You may know that William Randolph Hearst the champion of yellow journalism, renamed cannabis marijuana to associate it with Mexicans. Nixon's war on drugs in the early 70's was more of the same. Unless you want to prohibit alcohol again, because it is more dangerous than marijuana, then please get off your high horse and help people make it through their lives with much needed relief from marijuana.

reducing drug addiction

there must be a different approach the NIDA must take to curb drug addiction. Criminalizing addictive drugs may not be the best solution as it leads to a black market environment, organized crime, more potent drugs, a loss of revenue, political corruption, a lack of public understanding of drugs, etc. Ex: the failure of D.A.R.E., the Opium Wars, The 21st century opium trade routes, the development of new drugs after WWI. Yes, all of these events have specific circumstances, but a common element is failed policies to stem a drug considered too horrible by a national government. NIDA should seriously consider advocating politicians to reconsider how we classify drugs.

Marijuana and anxiety

In the work I do, I see marijuana negatively impact young people in their ability to stay in school and cope with normal day to day anxiety. I think we need more research in this area. While I am certain cannabis has medicinal qualities for some disorders, I am highly skeptical that it improves anxiety in any substantial way and in fact, may cause mental health problems. Right now, young people consider it "medicine" for any problem. I think we need to be more clear and specific in this area as I see it destroying many young people who use it daily - especially in concentrated forms. I just think we need more information since this seems to be a wide spread misunderstanding.

2021-2025 Strategic Plan

To protect its own credibility, NIDA should not stand in the way of legalizing cannabis, especially medical cannabis.

And funding should go to research intended to confirm potential benefits of cannabis as well as research aimed at finding harm.

To put it bluntly, the government has lied about cannabis for decades and you have played a significant role in this deception. This is shameful for a medical organization.

As Sanjay Gupta, M.D., acknowledged: “I mistakenly believed the Drug Enforcement Agency listed marijuana as a schedule 1 substance because of sound scientific proof. Surely, they must have quality reasoning as to why marijuana is in the category of the most dangerous drugs that have “no accepted medicinal use and a high potential for abuse.” They didn’t have the science to support that claim, and I now know that when it comes to marijuana neither of those things are true. It doesn’t have a high potential for abuse, and there are very legitimate medical applications. In fact, sometimes marijuana is the only thing that works. We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologize for my own role in that.”

2021-2025 Strategic Plan

The National Institute of Drug Abuse has a consistent record of funding and promoting biased research that portrays cannabis in a negative light, despite numerous large-scale and controlled studies showing the contrary. The LaGuardia Committee and the American Medical Association both denounced cannabis criminalization, citing that it does not lead to addiction nor is it a gateway drug. On the contrary, recent studies show the ability of cannabis to help individuals reduce or cease use of opioids, sleep medications, tobacco, and other street drugs such as cocaine. NIDA's insistent efforts to fund research on Cannabis Use Disorder is based on a fallible, correlation-based theory about the motivation behind cannabis use and is against the best interests of a population struggling with an opioid epidemic.

The REAL Harms of Marijuana - Prohibition

Science and widespread experience have shown marijuana is not addictive and is far less harmful than alcohol. - Yet, more than 600,000 innocent Americans are arrested for simple marijuana possession each year and made second-class citizens - for life!

They will forever face large obstacles to decent employment, education, travel, housing, government benefits, and will always go into court with one strike against them. They can even have their children taken away!

25 million Americans are now locked away in this very un-American sub-class because of this bogus "criminal" record. That has a horrible effect on the whole country, being a massive waste of human potential.

The fraudulent marijuana prohibition has never accomplished one positive thing. It has only caused vast amounts of crime, corruption, violence, death and the severe diminishing of everyone's freedom.

There is no more important domestic issue than ending what is essentially the American Inquisition.

Soy ex- consumidor, 58 años,…

Soy ex- consumidor, 58 años, terminando de estudiar , Tecnico en rehabilitacion de adicciones, en Universidad de Santiago de Chile
Vivo en Chile, Y deseo compartir experiencia vivida.
Saludos Sebastian Braniff


Each individual has a different tolerance to pain medication. Roux En Gastric Bypass patients can't have any kind of NSAIDs. Tylenol products only 4000 mg a day is not enough for a Failed Total knee replacement. Each person might need tested in medication that will work instead of wasting the doctor & patients time & insurance money. No one should have to suffer any kind of pain!


Drugs are not illegal because they are dangerous they are dangerous due to the lack of regulation (like drinking what you think is a pint of lager, turns out it's really moonshine) Carnage! Crime generates money, legalizing drugs would vastly cut crime and greatly reduce profit for the greedy at the top. Its high time somebody took responsibility we should be using our get it sorted.. the law against drugs is ludicrous its immoral and bullying

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