A New Guide to Accessing and Using Data to Inform Opioid & Substance Use Prevention

Updated: Apr 5

It is well known that there is an opioid epidemic in the U.S. In 2019, more than 156,000 Americans died from alcohol, drugs, and suicide, and in the intervening years the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these issues. Data show that since the pandemic started, more Americans are in crises, population mental health has worsened, there is more substance use, and higher rates of drug overdoses. In 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared the U.S. Opioid Epidemic a public health emergency, bringing national attention and funding to the urgent need to decrease opioid and substance use and address upstream factors that contribute to these behaviors, like poor mental health, trauma, and lack of access to Vital Conditions we all need to thrive.


The Opioid & Substance Use Data Framework

The National Center for Wellness and Recovery (NCWR) and the Institute for People, Place, and Possibility (IP3) recently collaborated to develop a two-part Opioid & Substance Use data framework to measure the community burden, risk, and protective factors of opioid and substance use. The two-part framework consists of 1) Burden of Opioid and Substance Use, and 2) Factors Associated with Opioid and Substance Use, and allows identification of priorities for addressing and preventing substance use— while advancing well-being—with an aim to address the Nation’s opioid crisis. The framework is designed for use by practitioners and community change-makers looking to advance a holistic approach to addressing substance use disorders at the population level.


Although opioid and substance use data are collected regularly by myriad data sources and

made publicly-available, it can be difficult to find relevant data. Furthermore, it can be challenging to make sense of all of the disparate data and get a full picture of opioid and substance use in a given community–and corresponding priorities for intervention and prevention.


Navigating the Opioid & Substance Use Data Landscape: Strategies to Assemble Data & Bridge Gaps

To support change-makers in leveraging this data framework, we’ve also developed a new guide: Navigating the Opioid and Substance Use Data Landscape: Strategies to Assemble Data and Bridge Gaps.

It is our hope that this two-part Opioid & Substance Use data framework and guide, can be catalytic for communities by providing:


  • A roadmap for examining upstream community and individual-level factors contributing to opioid and substance use disorders;

  • Access to data to aid in case-making, decision-making, grant-writing, program management, community needs assessment and beyond;

  • A common approach for stakeholders to see and understand their community’s needs and opportunities; and

  • A vehicle through which alignment across partners, systems, and efforts may occur.

Download the guide here, and reach out to IP3 if you’re interested in leveraging our web-based data platform, IP3 | Assess, to get access to the indicators in the framework describing your community!



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