Drug Surveillance Initiatives: An FTCOE Repository of Resources

Drug Surveillance Initiatives: An FTCOE Repository of Resources


December 2023


In the realm of drug surveillance, a multitude of data sources originate from diverse funding agencies, including but not limited to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and National Institutes of Health (NIH). Surveillance efforts span various levels, encompassing local, state, federal and international programs. These initiatives draw from a spectrum of origins, incorporating clinical data from hospital samples related to suspected overdoses, discharge information from emergency departments and inpatient hospitalizations, driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) data procured by law enforcement through forensic laboratory submissions, drug seizure data amassed by law enforcement, and drug-related information collected at the scene of suspected overdoses by medicolegal death investigators or first responders.  

The accessibility of data varies across surveillance systems, with some generating comprehensive reports and others offering data through static or searchable databases, dashboards, or alternative data interface tools.  

The following table provides a short description for each surveillance system with their associated website link.

NameTopicFundingLocationDirect Link
Customs and Border Protection Drug Seizure Statistics DashboardU.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is the United States’ largest federal law enforcement agency charged with securing the nation’s borders and facilitating international travel and trade. CBP monitors the nation’s more than 300 ports of entry, and their drug seizure data are entered into an internal reporting system. Data are made available through a public data portal, the CBP drug seizure statistics dashboard, which as of March 2024 includes data for fiscal years 2020 through fiscal year to date (FYTD) 2024 for seizures by both the U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) and the Office of Field Operations (OFO). Users can view monthly seizures by weight or by counts of seizure events. Filter options include component, fiscal year, drug type, region, land, and area of responsibility.

Seized DrugsUS DHS-CBPUSCBP Dashboard
Drug Enforcement Administration Toxicology Testing ProgramThe DEA TOX program started in 2019 and analyzes biological samples generated from drug overdose victims for identification of synthetic drugs. Specimens are submitted to a DEA-contracted toxicology testing laboratory by medical and law enforcement agencies. Blood is the preferred matrix for analysis. Samples sent to the DEA-contracted toxicology laboratory are tested for drugs that are not typically analyzed in other forensic or hospital laboratories.

Drug Overdose Surveillance and EpidemiologyThe CDC’s DOSE system provides information on non-fatal drug overdoses reported by health departments. DOSE includes both non-fatal overdose syndromic surveillance data and non-fatal overdose emergency department and inpatient hospitalization discharge data. Forty-seven states and the District of Columbia participate in non-fatal overdose syndromic surveillance data collection; 25 states provide discharge data to DOSE.

Nonfatal OverdosesUS DHHS-CDCUSDOSE
Early Warning Advisory on New Psychoactive SubstancesThe EWA program focuses on reporting trends in new/novel psychoactive substances (NPS). It is administered by the UNODC Global Synthetics Monitoring: Analyses, Reporting and Trends (SMART) program and works to report findings about illicit synthetic drugs, operating globally to share information. It also works to store information on these substances and to help understand how NPS are used and distributed. Data are received through a variety of sources, which can be viewed on their website.

NPS Trends and Chemical DetailsUNODCInternationalEWA
European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug AddictionThe EMCDDA’s mission is to support the “EU and national policymaking by providing evidence-based information on drugs, drug addiction and their consequences.” The EMCDDA conducts objective, independent research to ensure that the European Union is best prepared to handle threats. Funding for this organization comes from the EU, with independent funds from Turkey and Norway. They have many publicly available resources on their website, and a list of all their current work can be found under the Activities page on their website. Note: The EMCDDA will become the European Union Drugs Agency (EUDA) on 2 July 2024.

Drug Trends and PoliciesEuropean Parliament and Council of the EUEUEMCDDA
Florida Drug-Related Outcomes Surveillance and Tracking SystemFROST is one of the tools available through NDEWS. This tool provides data taken from Florida, including Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) data, national drug-related data and statistics, drug arrest data, and information on drugs identified in deceased persons from the CDC WONDER database. The program is intended and available for researchers, public health professionals, and the general public.

Drug-Related OutcomesSurveillance displayed through NDEWSFloridaFROST
Helping to End Addiction Long-term Data PlatformThe HEAL Data Platform is an interface to discover and access data generated by HEAL-funded and HEAL-relevant studies. HEAL studies relate to the opioid health crisis and treating pain. The platform is continuously updating and changing to give users as up-to-date information as possible. It does not store data but provides users with secure access to datasets.

Opioid and Pain Research DatasetsNIHUSHEAL
Laboratory Information Management System Public DataThe DEA Office of Forensic Sciences (OFS) uses a LIMS to track evidence from initial receipt of evidence to final storage of data. The DEA OFS laboratories receive drug evidence that is then analyzed by their laboratory for detection of substances such as heroin, fentanyl. To enhance transparency, DEA has released a Public Use File (XLS download) that includes drug category (cannabis, heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, methamphetamine, other drugs/substances, month, year, and state obtained, net weight, purity, and price. DEA includes several limitations for the Public Use File on their website.
National Drug Early Warning SystemFunded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), NDEWS is a program that uses surveillance data to detect early signs of potential drug epidemics. Data are received from 17 sentinel sites, which are located throughout the United States and include universities, departments of health, and law enforcement agencies. These sites submit indicator data throughout the year and also submit annual reports.

National Forensic Laboratory Information SystemSince 1997, the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Diversion Control Division (DCD) has funded NFLIS to collect and report data on controlled and noncontrolled substances. Participating laboratories in the United States submit results of drug testing data to NFLIS. This component of NFLIS is called NFLIS-Drug. Each month, participating laboratories report results from drug chemistry analyses on case items that law enforcement agencies submit to the laboratory. There are approximately 280 laboratories that participate in NFLIS-Drug that represent state, local, and federal laboratories in each state, including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

National Incident-Based Reporting SystemNIBRS is a program within the FBI that is a part of the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program, which compiles data reported by over 18,000 various law enforcement agencies. As of January 2021, NIBRS is the standard for law enforcement crime data reporting in the United States. NIBRS captures data on each single crime incident as well as on separate offenses within the same incident, including comprehensive reporting categories for drug/narcotic offenses: cultivating, manufacturing, distributing, selling, buying, using, possessing, transporting, and importing. Nationwide, all 50 states and the District of Columbia report to NIBRS; it covers 66% of the U.S. population, equaling over 37 million people.

National Vital Statistics SystemThe NVSS, managed by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) within CDC, serves as a crucial source for mortality statistics. This system gathers and disseminates information regarding deaths resulting from drug overdoses, detailing the substances involved and the locations of these deaths throughout the United States. The data are sourced from death certificates and includes provisional information from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

NPS DiscoveryThe NPS Discovery program, funded by the NIJ, is a drug early warning system that helps detect new/novel psychoactive substances (NPS) and reports on them for public health and safety stakeholders. Medical examiner and coroner offices, toxicology laboratories, clinical laboratories, and crime laboratories from across the United States submit samples for research analysis to the NPS Discovery program. NPS Discovery performs the analytical testing on toxicology samples and drug material to determine the types of substances in these samples. Often, these analyses are expanded in scope and identify new/novel substances.

NPS Trends and Chemical DetailsUS DOJ-NIJUSNPS Discovery
Overdose Detection Mapping Application ProgramODMAP was developed and is managed by the Washington/Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA). It provides nearly real-time data on suspected drug overdoses and facilitates communication between public safety and health officials and record management systems. As of December 2022, over 4,200 agencies representing public health, law enforcement, fire/emergency medical services, medical examiner/coroner, and other stakeholders in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico submit data to the system, with more than 1.64 million suspected overdoses recorded.

State and National Overdose WebSNOW is an interactive dashboard displayed by NDEWS. It shows information that comes from NDEWS sentinel sites related to drug-related outcomes. Data are publicly available and may only be used for informational purposes. There are four different pages within the dashboard: State Dashboard and Overdose Resources; Researched Abuse, Diversion and Addiction-Related Surveillance (RADARS) Map; HIDTA Map; and Fentanyl Analysis.

Drug-Related OutcomesSurveillance displayed through NDEWSUSSNOW
State Unintentional Drug Overdose Reporting SystemThe CDC’s SUDORS program was created to better understand the reasoning for overdose deaths. Data are received from 47 states and the District of Columbia. Each individual site collects data from death certificates, medical examiner and coroner reports and toxicology reports and then submits these data online.


For additional information regarding surveillance systems’ data usage, interpretation, limitations, and analysis see the full report below. This document aims to provide a summary of resources pertaining to drug surveillance systems, considering the diverse funding agencies and types of surveillance in play. It is important to note that this compilation is not exhaustive, as the landscape of drug surveillance initiatives is expansive. 

The Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCOE) is committed to periodically updating this resource to ensure its relevance. For suggestions or additions to enhance the comprehensiveness of this resource, please contact   

Funding for this Forensic Technology Center of Excellence report was provided by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.

The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this report are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Justice.

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