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Summary of Responses from a Request for Information: People with Disabilities and Opioid Use Disorder

May 4, 2018

The National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) at ACL issued a request for information about people with disabilities and opioid use disorder, which yielded comments from 50 respondents, including consumers, community and national organizations, research teams, and federal partners. 

Key findings from this effort are helpful to NIDILRR as it considers developing new funding opportunities related to the opioid crisis. These responses provided information about what is known and what are the most pressing research questions for the disability and rehabilitation research fields. A common thread among respondents was that there are many important unanswered research questions at the nexus of chronic pain, opioid misuse, and people with disabilities.

Read the full Summary of Responses from a Request for Information: People with Disabilities and Opioid Use Disorder. 

Key takeaways from the RFI responses are as follows:

  • New evidence suggests that people with disabilities are more likely than the general population to misuse opioids and develop an opioid use disorder but may be less likely to receive treatment than those without disabilities.
  • Approximately half of the RFI respondents commented on barriers to treatment for opioid use disorder among people with disabilities, including physical accessibility of treatment centers, limited insurance coverage, and polices that withheld opioid prescriptions without first offering pain management alternatives.
  • People with disabilities who experience a serious traumatic injury (e.g., spinal cord injury or traumatic brain injury) may be at greater risk of opioid misuse and unintentional death due to opioid poisoning.

Contact Sarah Ruiz, Ph.D., with any questions at: or 202-795-7782.

Last modified on 05/09/2020

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