Opioid Overdose Prevention


CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control funds nine 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 School of Public Health
  • The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital
  • University of Iowa
  • University of Michigan
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Rochester Medical Center
  • West Virginia University

Research: Studying Ways to Prevent Opioid Overdose

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

  • Effect of a Prescription Drug Coverage Policy on Risk of Falls and Overdose in Older Adults (University of Michigan)
  • Effects of a State Medical Board Policy Identifying Providers Manifesting Potentially Excessive Opioid Prescribing Practices
    (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
  • Expanding Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention in an Outpatient Setting for Patients with Opioid Use Disorders
    (West Virginia University)
  • Using m-Health Tools to Reduce the Misuse of Opioid Pain Relievers (Johns Hopkins School of Public Health)

Research in Action

The University of Michigan Injury Prevention Center (UMIPC) studied the impact of a motivational intervention to reduce opioid misuse and overdose risk behaviors among emergency department patients. 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 UMIPC 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 Injury Prevention Center (UMIPC) 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.

The Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy (CIRP) collaborated with the Clinton Foundation to publish The Prescription Opioid Epidemic: An Evidence-Based Approachpdf iconexternal icon. 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.

The West Virginia University Injury Control Research Center (WVU ICRC) collaborated with the state’s Bureau of Behavioral Health and Health Facilities to plan, conduct, and evaluate a statewide naloxone distribution program. The WVU 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 WVU ICRC is collecting data on how many overdoses the kits have reversed.

Training: Building the Field to Prevent Opioid Overdose

The University of Michigan Injury Prevention Center (UMIPC) and the University of Iowa Injury Prevention Research Center (UI IPRC) 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 and “medical misuse” of opioids. The summits resulted in strengthened collaborations between stakeholders and more coordinated and widespread prevention and intervention efforts in these states. The UMIPC posted YouTube videos featuring summit speakers and created an on-campus network of opioid overdose prevention researchers. The UI IPRC’s summit generated a call to action to address the problem in Iowa.

The University of North Carolina Injury Prevention Research Center (UNC IPRC) 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.