In 1989, Maryland’s Governor realized that the State had no reliable information about drug use among its citizens or about the effectiveness of drug and alcohol programs supported by taxpayer funds. "Nowhere in Maryland does the vast amount of disparate drug and alcohol-related information come together for analysis and distribution", noted the Maryland Drug and Alcohol Abuse Control Plan of 1989. Therefore, the Governor’s Drug and Alcohol Abuse Commission recommended the creation of the Center for Substance Abuse Research (CESAR), a premier multi-disciplinary research center at the University of Maryland, College Park. For the past three decades, CESAR has monitored shifts in the use and availability of drugs such as heroin, ecstasy, fentanyl, methamphetamine, prescription opioids, synthetic cannabinoids, and other synthetic drugs.
CESAR began its first studies of the State’s drug and alcohol problems in 1990. Since that time, it has grown into a leading research center with partnerships and collaborations with many federal, state, and local agencies across the country. In Maryland, CESAR has served as a research and training center to support the initiatives of numerous state agencies by providing advice and guidance on both when and how to launch targeted initiatives. CESAR has worked with state agencies and universities to prepare grant applications that have brought millions of dollars to Maryland to support state and local initiatives. CESAR staff’s cutting-edge research and epidemiological projects have made Maryland a national leader in identifying and responding to emerging drug use trends, including heroin in the late 1990s, ecstasy and other club drugs in the early 2000s, and new psychoactive substances and methamphetamine in the 2010s. In 2014, we adapted the skills and tools developed in Maryland to address emerging drug trends nationwide by creating and launching the National Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS). CESAR looks forward to expanding our collaborations to support the development and expansion of new projects such as the Emergency Department Drug Surveillance system (EDDS) and advancing the dissemination of information and services for rural and other under-served communities.
The objective research, practical products, and innovative technologies developed by CESAR staff have successfully informed policy makers, practitioners, and the public about substance abuse—its nature and extent, prevention and treatment, and relation to other problems. The research and training CESAR provides undergraduate and graduate students helps define the future of drug research, policies, and practices and has consistently guided the development and evaluation of effective drug prevention and treatment programs in Maryland and the United States.