Data Driven Action: CDC’s Commitment to Strengthen Overdose Surveillance and Prevention Efforts

Drug overdose deaths continue to impact communities across the United States:

  • From 1999 to 2021 more than one million people died from a drug overdose.1
  • In 2021, nearly 107,000 drug overdose deaths occurred.2
  • The rate of drug overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone increased 22% between 2020 and 2021.2
  • In 2021, over 80,000 drug overdose deaths involved opioids; over 70,000 involved a synthetic opioid other than methadone; over 24,000 involved cocaine; and nearly 33,000 involved more than one drug.2

These statistics reflect the urgent need for action. CDC is confronting this crisis through evidence-based interventions that correspond with changes in the illicit drug supply that make it deadlier than ever, continued threats from illegal fentanyl and other synthetic opioids, and a rise in stimulant use and the use of more than one drug.

CDC’s Work to Address the Drug Overdose Epidemic Continues

group hands together

One way CDC is working to address drug overdoses is to advance overdose prevention in communities across the country. Two recent funding opportunities are available for city, county, and state health departments and territories to:

  • Expand and strengthen overdose surveillance and prevention efforts.
  • Focus on evidence-based interventions that correspond with recent shifts in the drug overdose epidemic, including changes in the illicit drug supply and a rise in stimulant use and the use of more than one drug.
  • Enhance and expand the ability to track fatal and non-fatal overdoses and identify emerging drug threats.
  • Use data to continuously improve prevention activities and refine our understanding of what is effective in overdose prevention.

Currently, CDC funds 47 states and Washington, D.C., 2 territories, and 16 large city and county health departments through the Overdose Data to Action (OD2A) cooperative agreement. With these new funding opportunities, we will build on this essential program and leverage lessons learned to support innovation, expand harm reduction strategies, link people to life-saving care, and make the latest data available so that we can get ahead of the constantly evolving epidemic.

For more information about these funding opportunities, visit the website and Applications for jurisdictions are due May 8, 2023.

  1. Wide-ranging online data for epidemiologic research (WONDER). Atlanta, GA: CDC, National Center for Health Statistics; 2021. Available at
  2. Spencer MR, Miniño AM, Warner M. Drug overdose deaths in the United States, 2001–2021. NCHS Data Brief, no 457. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2022. DOI:
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