Responding to Opioid Epidemic

Take Action: National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

The National Prescription Drug Take Back Day addresses a crucial public safety and public health issue. According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 9.9 million Americans misused controlled prescription drugs. The study shows that a majority of abused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet.

CNCS supports the DEA’s Take Back Day events that provide an opportunity for Americans to prevent drug addiction and overdose deaths.

Participate: Drop off unneeded prescription drugs at one of 6,000 collection sites around the country. Visit to find a collection site near you.

Promote: Use social media to promote the day. Find information on the DEA's Take Back Day webpage, and see the DEA’s partnership toolbox for graphics and other resources.

National Service
Taking Action to Combat Opioid Crisis

Our nation is in the midst of an unprecedented opioid epidemic. Recognizing the severity of this crisis, CNCS has significantly increased its investment in substance abuse prevention, education, reduction, and recovery programs through local nonprofits, faith-based, and community organizations across the country.

National Service Responds to Opioid Crisis - Fact Sheet Hoja Informativa sobre la Crisis de Opiáceos


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In past years, CNCS has invested more than $27 million in opioid- and substance abuse-related AmeriCorps and Senior Corps projects. This two-year investment supports more than 2,800 AmeriCorps and Senior Corps members in 210 projects in all 50 states and Washington, DC. 

National Service Programs in Action

Serving with Police Departments to Prevent Overdoses and Relapse 
Last year, 22 AmeriCorps members served in 53 police departments across Massachusetts through the Police Assisted Addiction & Recovery Initiative (PAARI) AmeriCorps program, helping more than 3,800 people with substance use disorders access treatment and recovery services. RSVP of Allen County collaborates with TRIAD, the National Sheriff’s Association, and the Governor’s Commission for a Drug-Free Indiana to conduct education presentations with members of local law enforcement.

Providing Drug Abuse Prevention and Education
In Tennessee, Senior Corps RSVP volunteers serving with the Roane County Anti-Drug Coalition deliver drug education to military veterans, organize training for medical professionals on proper prescribing practices, and participate in drug take back days. In Hawaii, VISTA members have coordinated drug prevention workshops and classes for more than 1,000 Hawaiian youth, including partnering with community organizations to provide opioid prevention education in the Marshallese and Chuukese languages. In Kentucky, Operation UNITE’s 54 AmeriCorps members provided drug abuse education to more than 3,300 students last year, resulting in a 51% average increase in drug education and healthy decision-making knowledge.

Building the Capacity of Drug Treatment and Recovery Organizations
In Pennsylvania, two AmeriCorps VISTA members serving at the Wright Center's Opioid Use Disorder Center of Excellence helped secure a $1.1 million grant to support ten primary care practices in implementing an evidence-based Medication-Assisted Treatment program, which combines medication with counseling and behavioral therapies to treat substance use disorders.

Supporting Safe Disposal of Prescription Drugs
CNCS has partnered with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to support National Prescription Drug Take Back Day to help Americans safely dispose of unwanted prescription medications. In October 2018, 52 Senior Corps projects in 25 states participated in drug take back events. Last year, 17 Senior Corps projects helped distribute 100,000 medication disposal bags to all 56 counties in Montana.

Serving as Recovery Coaches to Help Individuals Overcome Addiction 
In Wisconsin, the Marshfield Clinic Health System engages AmeriCorps members to serve as trained Recovery Coaches to provide services and support individuals overcoming addiction to remain drug-free. The Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital in New Hampshire engages AmeriCorps members to help individuals in recovery resolve non-clinical barriers to care such as housing, literacy, and transportation.

Providing Substance Abuse Screening and Assessments
University of Nebraska AmeriCorps members use the evidence-based Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) method to identify, reduce, and prevent dependence on drugs. Mercy Health in Ohio places AmeriCorps members in emergency departments across the state to provide education, treatment placement, and emotional support to patients with substance abuse disorders.


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