Wastewater-Based Monitoring Could Help Guide Responses to the USA Opioid Epidemic
The successful use of wastewater-based data during the COVID-19 pandemic has led to the creation of the National Wastewater Surveillance System in the USA for pathogen monitoring. Now a complementary system is needed for help tackling the opioid epidemic.
In 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported annual deaths from drug-involved overdoses in the United States exceeded 100,000 people, with opioids primarily responsible for 75% of overdoses. With opioid overdose deaths having accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic, better data are urgently needed to illuminate the dynamic shifts in drug use that are occurring. Wastewater-based epidemiology has played a significant role in helping officials monitor and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. This innovative approach to public health surveillance can also be harnessed for more timely monitoring of the opioid epidemic.