The NDEWS Coordinating Center, based at the Center for Substance Abuse Research (CESAR) from 2014 to 2020, has worked closely with Sentinel Community Epidemiologists (SCEs) in 12 Sentinel Community Sites (SCSs) across the U.S. (see Figure). Emerging drugs and changing drug trends are monitored by each local SCE utilizing indicators such as drug overdose deaths, treatment admissions, hospital cases, poison center exposure calls, and law enforcement seizures. For the 2020 SCS reports, we used the same reporting format as in 2019.
Each SCE was asked to review available indicators, identify up to five drugs they considered most important to summarize for their site, and provide presentations at a special meeting of the NDEWS SCESAG core collaborators group. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many SCEs experienced delays and complications in requesting and receiving their data. Impacts of the pandemic included staff being re-assigned to COVID-related duties, changes or delays in reporting, changes in the types of services provided, substantial lag times in receiving data, and an inability to access data as in the past. Eleven of the 12 NDEWS SCEs were able to provide presentations and highlights of recent drug trends in their areas on May 27, 2020.
Four Evolving Trends Described in the 2020 NDEWS SCS Annual Reports
1. Polysubstance use plays a prominent role in drug overdose deaths.
2. Increases in methamphetamine-related overdose deaths were reported in 7 sites.
3. Fentanyl remains the most lethal drug in many NDEWS sites.
4. Minorities are becoming increasingly impacted by drug overdoses in some areas.