What drug or drug combinations send people to the emergency department?

Administering the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) to improve emergency department monitoring of substance abuse-related visits


The opioid crisis is a public health emergency. The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) is a nationwide surveillance system that will improve emergency department monitoring of substance abuse-related visits. This activity will help strengthen public health reporting and data collection on drug-related health care burden.


For the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Westat is:

  • Designing the surveillance and sentinel event reporting system
  • Developing the data abstraction infrastructure
  • Facilitating hospital onboarding and participation
  • Managing 24/7 abstraction operations
  • Launching a dissemination platform to inform public health response

DAWN information technology infrastructure captures, evaluates, produces reports, and visualizes data for study stakeholders.

DAWN systems:

  • Use modern open source technologies
  • Employ automation, such as machine learning, natural language processing, and analytical models
  • Are scalable and entirely hosted within the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud


SAMHSA’s mission is to reduce the impact of substance use and mental illness on America’s communities. 

DAWN will provide timely identification of drugs and combinations of drugs involved in emergency department visits, as well as the necessary information related to these visits that communities can use to target and deploy interventions.

Learn about the latest findings:

Press releases: 2021 Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) Releases

Report: Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN): Findings From Drug-Related Emergency Department Visits, 2021


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