The White House Launches Opioid Overdose Surveillance Tracker
During the opioid epidemic, overdose deaths in the United States have skyrocketed. You face a much higher risk of fatal overdose if you have survived a non-fatal overdose. That’s why the White House launched the Non-Fatal Opioid Overdose Surveillance Tracker.
In 2021, the annual drug overdose death rate in the United States topped 100,000 for the first time. Most of these deaths involved opioids such as fentanyl. In 2020, fentanyl was involved in 81% of fatal overdoses in Ohio.
One of the best ways to prevent overdose deaths is to gather information about non-fatal overdoses. That’s why the Biden Administration recently launched the Non-Fatal Opioid Overdose Surveillance Tracker (also called the Non-Fatal Opioid Overdose Dashboard).
What Is The Non-Fatal Opioid Overdose Surveillance Tracker?
The Non-Fatal Opioid Overdose Surveillance Tracker is a data dashboard that provides information on opioid overdoses and the effectiveness of emergency response efforts.
Developed by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), it uses county-level reports collected by emergency medical services (EMS) departments in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
The reports come from the National EMS Information System (NEMSIS), which is a database maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This database receives reports from nearly 95% of all EMS departments across the country.
The surveillance tracker uses these reports to track four metrics:
- the population rate of non-fatal opioid overdose in any given community
- the average number of times first responders give naloxone (a medication that can reverse an opioid overdose) to each patient
- the average EMS response time
- the percentage of non-fatal opioid overdose patients who don’t get taken to a medical facility for additional treatment
Benefits Of The Surveillance Tracker
Non-fatal overdose patients are two to three times more likely than other people to experience future fatal overdoses.
By offering real-time information on non-fatal overdoses, the surveillance tracker helps first responders, healthcare providers, and policymakers provide better care to people at high risk of fatal overdose.
For example, it can identify areas with the highest rates of non-fatal overdoses and thus the greatest need for more addiction treatment resources.
It can also help first responders learn how to administer naloxone more quickly and effectively.
Naloxone (sold under the brand name Narcan) can reverse an opioid overdose by attaching to opioid receptors and blocking or reversing the effects of opioids. It can also restore breathing to a normal level, as opioid overdoses often slow or stop a person’s breathing.
In addition, the surveillance tracker gets updated every two weeks. That means it offers the most current and relevant information on the country’s overdoses. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also has an overdose tracker, it only updates about every six months.
Limitations Of The Surveillance Tracker
Many addiction specialists view the surveillance tracker as an important step toward ending the overdose crisis. However, it has some limitations.
For instance, the system only tracks opioid overdoses. It does not track overdoses involving other drugs, such as cocaine and methamphetamine.
In addition, it only tracks overdoses that lead someone to call 911. In other words, it won’t include situations in which a person is revived by a friend or family member who administers naloxone without seeking professional help.
White House officials have acknowledged these limitations. However, they claim the system will become more comprehensive over the next year.
For example, they intend for it to track non-fatal overdoses involving all drugs, not just opioids. They also plan to track impact according to demographic categories, such as race/ethnicity, sex, and age.
How To Help Prevent Overdose Deaths
Government interventions like the Non-Fatal Opioid Overdose Surveillance Tracker play an essential role in preventing overdose deaths throughout the nation. However, you can also take simple steps to reduce fatal overdoses in your community.
Learn The Signs
First, learn the signs of opioid overdose. These include:
- extreme drowsiness
- cold, clammy, or bluish skin
- bluish lips and/or fingernails
- smaller pupils
- slowed heartbeat
- slowed or stopped breathing
- choking or gurgling sounds
- loss of consciousness
Next, get naloxone. You can find it at most pharmacies without a prescription. Your doctor or pharmacist can teach you how to use it. If someone you know shows signs of opioid overdose, call 911 and administer the naloxone right away.
Learn The Symptoms Of Addiction
Finally, learn the symptoms of substance use disorder (also called drug addiction). The most common symptoms include:
- feeling unable to stop using drugs even if you want to
- needing increasingly higher or more frequent doses of a drug to feel the desired effects (also called tolerance)
- experiencing unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when you don’t use drugs (also called physical dependence)
People with addiction face an extremely high risk of non-fatal and fatal overdose. If you think you or someone you love has this disease, seek help at an addiction treatment program. These programs provide recovery-focused services such as medical detox, mental health counseling, and support groups.
To learn more about addiction treatment options, please reach out to Ohio Recovery Center. Our board-certified healthcare providers offer personalized, evidence-based treatments to help you or your loved one stay drug-free.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — Drug Overdose Deaths in the U.S. Top 100,000 Annually https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/nchs_press_releases/2021/20211117.htm
- National Institute on Drug Abuse — Naloxone DrugFacts https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/naloxone
- Ohio Department of Health — Drug Overdose https://odh.ohio.gov/know-our-programs/violence-injury-prevention-program/drug-overdose/
- The White House — Biden-Harris Administration Launches First-of-its-Kind National Data Dashboard for Non-Fatal Overdoses https://www.whitehouse.gov/ondcp/briefing-room/2022/12/08/biden-harris-administration-launches-first-of-its-kind-national-data-dashboard-for-non-fatal-overdoses/