Prescription bottled filled with fentanyl pills

Started in 2013 by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Drug Early Warning System, or NDEWS, helps gather data for researchers, health professionals, and local communities regarding substance abuse. The network consists of over 1,600 experts across multiple disciplines including ethnography, toxicology, medicine, and epidemiology. Together, these teams analyze the impact drug use has on public health in order to develop actionable solutions bespoke to the community being served.

How Does the NDEWS Work?

Headquartered at the University of Florida, the NDEWS leverages national data along with regional research results to better understand a community’s relationship with specific drugs such as why a particular city is seeing an increase in opioid-related deaths. Any initiative led by the NDEWS staff is followed up with smaller studies for rapid results that are used to decide if changes are necessary to optimize results.

One of the key priorities of the NDEWS network is tracking the opioid epidemic that has plagued the United States since the late 90s. The system also tracks emerging trends such as new synthetic drugs or uncommon substances gaining a sudden spike in consumption. There are currently 18 sentinel sites spread across the country which consist of major cities and metros that struggle with substance abuse and addiction.

While a large portion of the data gathered comes from hospital and emergency response reports, the NDEWS has a team of investigators that interview community members, first responders, and even funeral directors to gain valuable insights into how drugs are hitting the community on a deeper level. Drug use patterns uncovered in one region can help identify similar trends emerging elsewhere, allowing for early intervention.

How Does Early Intervention Help?

Addition is a lifelong disease that worsens the long it goes untreated. For those lucky enough to stop drug use before an addiction forms, their behaviors can easily go back to normal as if they never used drugs in the first place. Unfortunately this is rarely the case as many drugs quickly create dependencies within the brain that make quitting a medical process rather than one of sheer will.

Early intervention on a community level helps city planners and committees design and implement new public resources such as syringe exchanges, medical detox clinics, and developmental programs that find gainful employment for those who successfully complete recovery. Public service announcements can also be made through television, radio, and advertising space throughout the city to let locals know what’s happening and how they can stay safe or help loved ones with their drug addiction.

Working Towards Ending Addiction for Good

Now with more cities and rural areas included in the network, the NDEWS is spotting acute drug use trends as soon as they surface. Tackling the issues immediately reduces the foothold a drug has within a community. When there’s more awareness and less demand for a drug, those distributing it will have to move on with the ultimate goal of reducing addiction numbers to an amount that can easily be helped with public assistance and mental health professionals.

America’s Rehab Campus has its finger on the pulse of local drug trends and the needs of those battling addiction. Our doors are open all day, every day, year round, for anyone seeking a safe space to recover in. If you’re in need of treatment or want to ask questions for a loved one, don’t hesitate to reach out to the ARC team today to get started.