Notice of Special Interest (NOSI): Mechanistic Investigations of Psychosocial Factors Associated with Substance Use Disorders

Notice Number: NOT-DA-20-005

Key Dates
Release Date: March 3, 2020
First Available Due Date: June 05, 2020
Expiration Date: September 08, 2023

Related Announcements

PAR-19-368 (R01) Accelerating the Pace of Drug Abuse Research Using Existing Data (Clinical Trial Optional)

PA-19-054 (Parent R21) NIH Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant Program (Clinical Trial Required)

PA-19-053 (Parent R21) NIH Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant Program (Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

PA-19-092 (Parent R21) NIH Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant Program (Basic Experimental Studies with Humans Required)

PA-19-056 (Parent R01) Research Project Grant (Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

PA-19-055 (Parent R01) Research Project Grant (Clinical Trial Required)

PA-19-091 (Parent R01) NIH Research Project Grant (Basic Experimental Studies with Humans Required)

Issued by
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)


This Notice invites innovative research to characterize the consequences of psychosocial factors on mechanisms of action and determinants of vulnerability and/or resilience to substance use disorder (SUD). Research using basic or clinical approaches is appropriate.


Psychosocial stress or stress induced by situations of social threat or inequity (e.g., low socioeconomic status, childhood trauma) has repeatedly been linked to substance use disorders (SUDs). Neighborhood poverty and social support are shown to influence substance use patterns. Among smokers, multiple psychosocial stressors are associated with relapse, and acute psychosocial stress has been demonstrated to enhance cigarette craving and smoking behavior. Similarly, psychosocial stress has been associated with greater risk of relapse in individuals with alcohol and cocaine use disorders.

Recent findings suggest that neurocognitive substrates pertinent to SUD are not only influenced by chronic psychosocial stress, particularly early life adversity, but also by acute stressors. Further, factors such as social support are seen to positively influence outcomes at various points in the substance use trajectory. However, the underlying mechanisms of these and other psychosocial factors, especially in the context of SUD, remain poorly understood. Taken together, the extant literature suggests that mechanistic investigations of SUDs need to be conceptualized with consideration to the underlying psychosocial factors. The goal of this Notice of Special Interest (NOSI) is to promote research directed at elucidating the neurobiological mechanisms by which psychosocial factors during different windows of development shape the trajectory of substance use and substance use disorder.

Research Objectives

NIDA seeks applications that support mechanistic research on psychosocial factors related to the substance use trajectory.

Research questions include but are not limited to:

  • What are the genetic factors that determine individual differences in the propensity to develop SUDs after exposure to psychosocial stress?
  • What is the interplay among genetic, epigenetic and psychosocial factors that contribute to substance use vulnerability and resilience?
  • How do psychosocial factors alter neural network activity in circuits related to decision-making and compulsive behavior?
  • What are the neurobiological mechanisms underlying moderators between psychosocial stress and risk for SUDs (e.g. coping strategies, personality traits)?
  • What are the specific developmental windows during which psychosocial factors increase vulnerability to substance use?
  • How does early life or repeated exposure to psychological trauma alter neural plasticity to increase risk for SUD?
  • Are there sex differences in the influence of psychosocial factors on substance use and are these dependent or independent of sex hormones? What are the associated underlying neurobiological mechanisms of action?

Application and Submission Information

This notice applies to due dates on or after June 5, 2020 and subsequent receipt dates through September 8, 2023.

Submit applications for this initiative using one of the following funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) or any reissues of these announcement through the expiration date of this notice.

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide and the funding opportunity announcement used for submission must be followed, with the following additions:

  • For funding consideration, applicants must include “NOT-DA-20-005” (without quotation marks) in the Agency Routing Identifier field (box 4B) of the SF424 R&R form. Applications without this information in box 4B will not be considered for this initiative.
Applications nonresponsive to terms of this NOSI will be not be considered for the NOSI initiative.


Please direct all inquiries to the contacts in Section VII of the listed funding opportunity announcements with the following additions/substitutions:

Scientific/Research Contact(s)

Vani Pariyadath, Ph.D.
NIDA/Division of Neuroscience and Behavior
Telephone: 301-443-3209