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Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN)


The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) is a public health surveillance system that monitors drug-related visits to hospital emergency departments (EDs) and drug-related deaths investigated by medical examiners and coroners. In 2003, DAWN expanded beyond drug abuse to help communities and member facilities identify emerging problems, improve patient care, and manage resources.


Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

Data Years Available






Selected Content


Population covered

For drug-related ED visits: the U.S. population and selected metropolitan areas. For drug-related mortality: selected areas.


Hospitals eligible to participate in the DAWN sample are short-term, non-Federal, general facilities with 24 hour emergency departments (EDs). The sample is stratified based on location (selected metropolitan areas), ownership and hospital size. Medical examiners (MEs) and coroners in areas served by DAWN hospitals, as well as those in states with centralized ME systems, are invited to join DAWN. Data are obtained from ED medical records and death investigation case files. All types of ED visits related to recent drug use and all types of drug-related deaths are reported to DAWN. (For more information about the DAWN methodology, see Drug Abuse Warning Network: Development of a New Design, Methodology Report. 2002. Available at: {link:10653})

Response rate and sample size

Three DAWN ED sample includes about 1,000 hospitals in 21 metropolitan areas and the remainder of the country. In 2008, 544 ME/coroner jurisdictions participated in DAWN.

Interpretation Issues


References and related web pages. Accessed August 27, 2010.