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2016-2020 NIDA Strategic Plan

Objective 3.3: Identify biomarkers that predict response to treatment and risk for relapse

An impediment to understanding addiction as a brain disorder, and to its successful treatment, is the current lack of biological markers that can be measured to accurately determine the relative states of impairment and health across the trajectory of SUDs. In addition, behavioral markers such as impulsivity, emotional regulation, and sensitivity to reward may be used to predict response to treatment. NIDA will continue to support research to identify such biological and behavioral markers that predict treatment response and relapse risk. Reliable metrics will enable providers to more accurately predict risk for and diagnose an SUD, predict which therapeutic intervention may be most effective, or intervene early in people at risk for relapse. Identification of mechanistic biomarkers of SUD risk will also serve to illuminate targets and pathways for development of therapeutics and will facilitate tracking treatment response to allow for faster testing and validation of medications and other interventions.


  • Correlate findings from -omics studies (i.e., genomics, epigenomics, proteomics, metabolomics) to elucidate mechanistic pathways and target proteins or molecules that may be linked with the biological mechanisms of SUDs at specific stages
  • Develop and test mobile sensing strategies as biomarkers for drug taking, recovery, and relapse risk