In the News

Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) 2021 Final Findings Released

January 6, 2023

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has released a final report from the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) on 2021 drug-related emergency department (ED) visits. DAWN is a nationwide public health surveillance system that captures data on ED visits related to recent substance use and misuse directly from the electronic health records (EHRs) of participating hospitals. Westat developed and operates the surveillance system and supported SAMHSA on the analysis and production of the report.

In 2021, DAWN identified nearly 150,000 drug-related ED visits from 52 participating hospitals. These data were analyzed to

  • Generate nationally representative weighted estimates for all drug-related ED visits
  • Generate nationally representative weighted estimates for the top 5 drugs in drug-related ED visits
  • Assess monthly trends and drugs involved in polysubstance ED visits in a subset of sentinel hospitals
  • Identify drugs new to DAWN’s Drug Reference Vocabulary (DRV) in 2021

Here are key data findings from sections of the report:

Weighted national estimates for all drug-related ED visits

  • Patients ages 26-44 had the highest percentage (40.16%) of all drug-related ED visits.
  • Male patients accounted for 61.12% of all drug-related ED visits with a rate of 2,672 per 100,000.
  • White patients accounted for 60.90% of all drug-related ED visits followed by Black or African American patients at 15.27%.

Weighted national estimates for the top 5 drugs in drug-related ED visits

DAWN sentinel hospitals were selected by SAMHSA from key urban areas with the goal of serving as an early warning system.

  • Alcohol, methamphetamine, marijuana, cocaine, and heroin were the top drugs involved in drug-related visits at sentinel hospitals.
  • Monthly trend analysis revealed decreasing trends in alcohol-, methamphetamine-, marijuana-, and heroin-related ED visits and increasing trends in visits related to fentanyl and unspecified narcotic analgesics.

Learn more:

Press releases: 2021 Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) Releases
Report: Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN): Findings From Drug-Related Emergency Department Visits, 2021
Drug Abuse Warning Network | CBHSQ Data (


Deep Dive with Our Experts

view all news

How can we help?

We welcome messages from job seekers, collaborators, and potential clients and partners.

Get in Contact

Want to work with us?

You’ll be in great company.

Explore Careers
Back to Top