Opioid Overdose Prevention


CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control funds 10 Injury Control Research Centers (ICRCs). These centers study ways to prevent injuries and violence and work with community partners to put research findings into action.

The number of drug overdose and opioid-involved deaths continues to rise in the United States. More than six out of 10 drug overdose deaths involve an opioid. Nine ICRCs address the opioid overdose epidemic through research, training, or outreach activities:

  • Columbia University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Nationwide Children’s Hospital
  • University of Iowa
  • University of Michigan
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Rochester
  • West Virginia University

Research: Studying Ways to Prevent Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence


Examples of CDC-funded ICRC research projects are listed here:

  • Expanding Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP) in Outpatient Settings for Opioid Use Disorders. (West Virginia University)
  • Out-of-hospital medication errors among young children in the United States, 2002-2012. (The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital)
  • A pilot randomized control trial of an intervention to reduce overdose risk behaviors among emergency department patients at risk for prescription opioid overdose. (University of Michigan)
  • Use of non‐pharmacological strategies for pain relief in addiction treatment patients with chronic pain. (University of Michigan)

Research in Action

The University of Michigan studied the impact of a motivational intervention to reduce opioid misuse and overdose risk behaviors among emergency department patients. A motivational intervention includes strategies to motivate clients for change such as counseling, assistance with decision-making, and goal-setting. Patients who received motivational intervention reported significantly lower levels of overdose risk behaviors and lower levels of nonmedical opioid use at follow-up than patients who received traditional education interventions. The ICRC will work with partners to adapt and implement this effective program more widely.

Outreach: Putting Research into Action to Prevent Opioid Overdose


The University of Michigan collaborated with law enforcement, public health, and drug enforcement agencies to create a real-time tracking system from multiple sources across the state. They are monitoring areas with significant overdose activity or risk of overdose to identify the size, spread, and trends of nonfatal and fatal overdoses. Real-time data allows faster responses from state agencies involved in opioid overdose prevention.

Johns Hopkins University collaborated with the Clinton Foundation to publish The Prescription Opioid Epidemic: An Evidence-Based ApproachCdc-pdfExternal. Thirty-five national experts reviewed what is known about the epidemic, identified strategies for reversing the trends, and made recommendations for action on prescribing, monitoring, treating addiction, packaging, and educating communities. Using this report, Maryland, West Virginia, Michigan, and Iowa informed their approaches to opioid addiction, misuse, and overdose.

West Virginia University collaborated with the state’s Bureau of Behavioral Health and Health Facilities to plan, conduct, and evaluate a statewide naloxone distribution program. The ICRC delivered more than 8,250 kits, including 26 counties that previously did not have naloxone programs. The collaboration created 65 new naloxone programs. This included 15 fire and police departments, 35 take-home programs from health departments, day report centers, and recovery programs, seven WV Department of Corrections sites, seven on-site programs, and several others sites like a county school district and courthouse. The ICRC is collecting data on how many overdoses the kits have reversed.

Training: Building the Field to Prevent Opioid Overdose


The University of Michigan and the University of Iowa hosted opioid overdose prevention summits in their states to educate public health professionals and officials, law enforcement officers, attorneys, educators, and health care and treatment providers about opioid overdose. More than 400 stakeholders attended the summits, which included sessions covering epidemiology and surveillance, developments in clinical practice, and nonmedical use of opioids. The summits resulted in strengthened collaborations between stakeholders and more coordinated and widespread prevention and intervention efforts in these states. The University of Michigan posted YouTube videos featuring summit speakers and created an on-campus network of opioid overdose prevention researchers. The University of Iowa’s summit generated a call to action to address the problem in Iowa.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill collaborated with CDC’s Core State Violence and Injury Prevention Program to implement a national, year-long opioid overdose training academy for injury and violence prevention practitioners and partners, as well as for community groups in 25 North Carolina counties. This training academy provides information to help trainees builds skills to develop effective policies and influence community and organization-level changes, such as encouraging EMS and law enforcement to carry naloxone.