Arts Strategies for Addressing the Opioid Crisis: Examining the Evidence

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National Endowment for the Arts

Year of Publication:

National Endowment for the Arts

Publication Type:


Prompted by the USA’s opioid crisis, this report reviews and analyses 20 years of evidence about the arts’ use in pain management and in treatment of substance abuse disorders; it also highlights promising arts-based strategies in these practice areas.

In October 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared the opioid crisis a national public health emergency and prioritized identifying effective, evidence-based strategies for pain management and the prevention and treatment of substance use disorder (SUD).a,1
Increasingly, the arts have become more widely established and accepted as health-promoting practices in the United States and around the world.2,3 Research indicates that engagement in the arts has significantly positive effects on physical symptoms, psychological health, and social relationships.4,5 As the U.S. healthcare system moves toward greater integration of physical and behavioral health6, arts-based interventions should be considered among potential complementary approaches for managing pain and preventing and treating SUD.
The purpose of this report is to describe the evidence on the role of the arts in the management of pain and in the prevention and treatment of SUD. Grounded in a literature review and program scan, the report identifies promising arts-based strategies to assist individuals, communities, health practitioners, and policymakers in responding to the present-day opioid crisis.

Evidence Type: Literature Review

Main Focus: Physical Health

Research Purpose: Discussion / Debate

Context: Community

Art Forms: Multi-Arts

Access Type: Free Download

APA Citation:

National Endowment for the Arts (2020). Arts Strategies for Addressing the Opioid Crisis: Examining the Evidence Key Findings from a Literature Review and Program Scan on the Arts, Pain Management, and Substance Use Disorder. USA: National Endowment for the Arts.