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Center for Injury Research and Policy

Substance Use and Overdose

Medicine cabinet with mirrored door partially open, white cabinet, white tile wall

Substances such as alcohol, marijuana and prescription medications are known risk factors for a host of injuries.

Over the last two decades, drug overdoses have dramatically increased with deaths more than tripling between 1999 and 2016, according to the CDC. In 2016, more than 63,000 people died from drug overdoses—more than 42,000 of these involved prescription or illicit opioids. In addition, the CDC reports that 10,497 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for 28 percent of all traffic-related deaths in the United States in 2016.

Close-up of Man Driving a Car Hand on Steering WheelAt the Center, we are taking a multifaceted approach. We are exploring technological solutions such as alcohol sensing technologies and personalized tamper resistant pill dispensers as well as policy solutions such as alcohol interlock devices for individuals convicted of drunk driving.

Programs to educate patients about pain medication alternatives and safety practices for medication storage and disposal are also active areas of research and outreach.

Our Work in Action

The U.S. is entering the third decade of a devastating opioid crisis; overdose deaths now exceed deaths due to motor vehicle crashes.  We are conducting innovative research to promote the widespread uptake of evidence-based intervention to address opioid use disorder and overdose, and we are also increasing our focus on preventing opioid use in the first place. 

The Center has been instrumental in responding to the crisis. In 2017, the Clinton Health Matters Initiative and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health co-hosted a forum focused on elevating high-impact solutions to the nation’s opioid epidemic.

Speakers, panelists and thought leaders representing diverse stakeholders affected by the crisis considered critical components needed to reduce the injury and death rates nationwide. Evidence-based recommendations that reflect the most current science were the focus and translating that evidence to action was the goal.

The report The Opioid Epidemic: From Evidence to Impact delivers specific, proven recommendations for how to most effectively combat the epidemic for a variety of stakeholder groups including physicians, health care providers, employers and advocates.