Novel Surveillance

One aim of the new NDEWS is to incorporate and leverage novel surveillance methods to ensure the early detection of signals of new and emerging drug trends.

While lagged indicators such as overdose deaths, drug seizures, and treatment admissions are useful for longer-term monitoring of patterns of drug use and associated consequences, these indicators are unable to detect potentially dangerous trends as they emerge, before serious consequences and death.

To identify early signals of shifts in drug use trends and the onset of drug epidemics, real-time, ongoing surveillance is required. This form of national monitoring is the goal of NDEWS, which will be accomplished by synthesizing traditional, lagged sources of data with novel, leading sources, including data from “drug checking,” an ongoing national venue-intercept study, Virtual HealthStreet, and the development of an innovative machine learning approach to detect the emergence of new psychoactive substances in real-time through algorithms deployed to darknet drug markets and forums.