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Overdose Prevention

In the United States, the annual number of overdose deaths has surpassed firearm and car crash fatalities combined.

Why It Matters

  • 100,000 More than 100,000 people died from preventable drug overdose in the United States in during the 12-month period ending in April 2021, the highest number of overdose deaths ever on record.
  • 5 ½ Every 5 ½ minutes, someone dies from a preventable drug overdose in the United States.
  • 2/3 of people incarcerated on low-level charges in the United States have a substance use disorder; they need services, not jail.
  • 13% Only 13% of US counties have a syringe access program.

Our Current Focus

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The crisis of overdose is affecting US communities everywhere. Progress against the still rising rates will require leadership across levels of government, and from communities, providers, institutions, and advocates. Leadership must include people who use drugs.

We strive to promote innovation, improve quality, build scale, and ensure sustainability, grounded in data and evidence, and focused on racial equity. Our approach is multidisciplinary, inclusive, and responsive to local conditions.

As momentum grows for a health-based response to drug use, overdose has risen sharply in Black and Latinx communities. Progress must address the collateral consequences of drug use criminalization in communities of color.

Make Medications Accessible and Available

We are working to create widespread and equitable access to lifesaving medications for people who use drugs.


Naloxone, the antidote medication for opioid overdose, should be accessible to all people who use drugs or who may witness an overdose. We support:


Engage Communities

We are working to engage and mobilize communities for harm reduction services that center people who use drugs and are grounded in equity.


Harm reduction services, including syringe services, should be available and accessible to all people who use drugs, across geographies and demographics. We support:


To end overdose, we must stop stigmatizing and punishing people for using drugs.

Daliah Heller
Director of Drug Use Initiatives

Support, Don’t Punish

We are working to prevent the criminalization of people who use drugs. We seek to undo reliance on the criminal legal system as a response to drug use, and move towards a supportive community health response.


Civilian crisis response ensures that health and social crises, such as overdose, receive health and social support. We support:


How We Work

Through coordination, advising, and funding support, we aim to advance and implement the interventions centering equity, strengthening quality, building scale, and achieving sustainability.


We work through:

  • Partnerships with state and local governments
  • Technical assistance and capacity-building for strengthening and scaling services
  • Grants for new direct services
  • Infrastructure development for community-based organizations
  • Staff embedded in government agencies to implement projects
  • Coalition-building and advocacy projects


We are conducting and supporting multi-media campaigns to improve public understanding and promote a supportive approach for people who use drugs.



Toolkits & Resources

We work with other experts, stakeholders, and community leaders to develop and publish resources for advancing best practices.