Skip Navigation
There May Be A Research Study For You

About Research Studies

Frequently Asked Questions

About Research Studies

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)—the nation's leading medical research agency. NIDA research helps to:

  • Understand how the brain works when people use—and don't use—drugs, such as nicotine, cocaine, ecstasy, and marijuana

  • Find out what causes people to use drugs

  • Discover new treatments for drug abuse

  • See how using drugs for a long time affects the brain

  • Find the best ways to help individuals stop smoking cigarettes

Your participation in NIDA research is an important part of our combined mission to turn discovery into health.

Answers to frequently asked questions...

  • How are studies approved?

    Physicians, scientists, and other people rigorously evaluate all research for safety, ethics, and need for the study. All studies are reviewed by an Institutional Review Board (IRB) to ensure that all research is conducted in the most ethical and safest possible manner. If an investigational new drug is involved, the FDA will also review the study.

  • How safe is my information?

    Your privacy is very important to us. Any information you give us is kept confidential to the extent possible by law and is protected by federal law. Many of our studies have Federal Confidentiality Certificates, which means we can refuse to release your records even if a judge asks for them. We will not release any information that identifies you to anyone else unless you give permission. Be aware that there are a few exceptions, however, as we are required to report child abuse and certain infectious diseases.

  • Who can participate?

    The kinds of studies we conduct include, but are not limited to, research involving alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, opiate, and nicotine use. Research participants include people who may occasionally use any of these substances, to people who abuse or are addicted to them. We also need people who have never used nicotine, alcohol, or illegal substances. Participants should be generally healthy and have the time and interest to commit to the study.

  • Does everyone who wants to participate get into a study?

    Unfortunately not everyone is eligible for our studies. Our researchers are looking for specific types of participants with specific characteristics related to what we are studying. We screen applicants carefully to make sure that they have those characteristics and that it will be safe for them to participate. However, just because you are not eligible when you call or come in for screening does not mean that you cannot call us back in the future to see if we have new studies that you might qualify for.

  • Are there any risks to participants in a NIDA study?

    There are potential risks with any clinical research study. The study staff will explain any risks, requirements, restrictions, or possible side effects before you agree to take part in any study. This is part of the Informed Consent to Participate in Research that is required of all research studies. Nothing can be asked of you or done to you without your understanding and agreement. It is very important that you ask staff any questions or voice any concerns before you make a decision about participating.

  • Is there any cost to participate?

    There is no cost to join a study.

  • Are participants paid for their time?

    We realize that the time you spend participating in research is valuable. Most of our studies give participants money for their time and some studies provide for local travel. The amount of payment depends upon the amount of time you spend doing study activities, the type of activities you do and whether or not you complete the study. Some of our studies give participants gift cards instead of cash. You can ask about payment for specific studies when you call us for more information. Payment will also be explained during the Informed Consent process before you start a study.

  • Once I agree to participate can I change my mind?

    Absolutely! Participation is completely voluntary and you can change your mind at any point, even after you have started a study. No one should feel pressured to join or complete a study. Sometimes applicants are eligible for more than one study. It is not required that you participate in all of the studies you qualify for. Please consider the time commitment and study requirements carefully before making a decision to join. We would rather you tell us honestly what you want or do not want to do and what you can and cannot do than to start a study you know you will not finish.

  • How can I see if I qualify for one of the studies?

    Getting started is easy. The first step is to call our Research Call Center at 1–800–535–8254 for a short (about 20 minutes) confidential phone interview. If it looks like you may qualify for one or more of our studies, you may be asked to come for an in person interview at NIDA.

    All research applicants are thoroughly screened to ensure safety. Applicants receive a series of interviews and medical and psychological tests, including a physical exam and a review of your medical history. Results of these medical tests will be discussed with you, and you will be informed of any medical conditions we may find. All of the information is reviewed by a physician who determines if you are eligible for a study.

  • What have we learned from NIDA addiction research?

    Advances in medical science come through research. At NIDA we have been able to learn about how drugs and nicotine affect the body and brain.

    Visit these websites to learn more about our research results

    All of these advances are direct results of clinical research involving people like you.

Call 1–800–535–8254 to learn about studies that are going on now.