Spotlight on Progress: CDC Shares Community Drug Overdose Prevention Successes in New Resources

Putting Data into Action

Drug overdoses are preventable, yet more than one million people died from a drug overdose between 1999 and 2021. Every day, almost 300 people lose their lives due to drug overdose. Public health professionals, policymakers and communities all play a role in preventing overdose deaths. Overdose Data to Action (OD2A) is a CDC-funded program that helps state and local health departments, and the communities they serve, to get high-quality, timelier data on nonfatal and fatal drug overdoses and use those data to inform prevention and response efforts. CDC supports OD2A-funded communities in their ability to address drug overdoses by providing access to subject matter experts and tailored technical assistance, and overdose prevention resources. “The impact of this crisis is far-reaching, touching the lives of our families, friends and neighbors in deeply personal and profound ways. By prioritizing successful prevention and response efforts and providing tailored tools and resources, we can help ensure everyone has access to the care and support they need to live healthy, fulfilling lives — building stronger, more resilient communities,” says Christopher M. Jones, PharmD, DrPH, MPH (CAPT U.S. Public Health Service), Director of CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

Sharing state and local overdose prevention and response strategies

CDC developed the OD2A Case Studies to capture in-depth information from funded jurisdictions about current and emerging practices related to overdose prevention and response. Designed for public health practitioners, these case studies share examples that can be adapted at the state and local levels. Partners on the ground asked for more relevant and applicable strategies, so CDC identified six key topic areas for interviews, analysis and write-ups in these case studies.

  • Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are preventable, potentially traumatic events that occur in childhood (0-17 years). Recognizing the lasting negative effects ACEs can have and focusing on their intersection with substance use disorders, this case study highlights OD2A-funded initiatives addressing ACEs in Louisiana and South Carolina.
  • Harm reduction is a public health approach that focuses on reducing the harmful consequences of drug use. It can include syringe services programs, naloxone distribution, fentanyl test strip distribution, and community overdose prevention and education. Focusing on the Illinois Harm Reduction Community Linkage Project, this case study describes a novel harm reduction program that funds local organizations.
  • Linkage to care is the process of connecting people at risk of overdose to evidence-based treatment, services and support. Access to care and services is critical to addressing the overdose epidemic. Using an example from Massachusetts, CDC shares practices specific to improving linkage to care in non-public safety settings.
  • Public safety-led post-overdose outreach can help identify people at higher risk of overdose by linking them to care and other overdose prevention and harm reduction efforts. Two case studies describe successful public safety-led post-overdose outreach initiatives in West Virginia and Franklin County, Ohio.
  • State and local health departments are uniquely positioned to respond to the drug overdose crisis, with the authority to enact policies, deploy resources and coordinate various partners. State and local integration activities engage health departments, community organizations, coalitions and community members in working together on prevention. The case studies presented on this topic illustrate what successful state and local integration looks like in Rhode Island and California.
  • Reducing stigma at multiple levels and creating a culture of change is important to helping people at risk of overdose. Stigma occurs when people with certain social identities are labeled, stereotyped and devalued, leading to discriminatory behavior and internalized shame that can negatively affect access to health care and other support services. CDC shared two examples of state programs addressing stigma related to people who use drugs, from Vermont, Motivational Interviewing and Compassion Training, and Stigma/Harm Reduction Training.

Helping communities put effective practices to work

When people’s lives are on the line, integrated data and effective programs help communities take action to protect people from drug overdose and related harms. The overdose crisis requires prevention, treatment, recovery and harm reduction efforts that are tailored to promote optimal health for all.

Communities are demonstrating innovation in reducing overdose and are sharing compelling examples of collaboration and teamwork. CDC is showcasing these so that communities can learn from each other. Beyond promoting the critical work that continues nationwide, tools and resources like the OD2A Case Studies encourage applying solutions that work to help communities that need it most.

For additional OD2A resources or to learn more about how CDC is working to prevent overdoses and substance use-related harms visit:

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