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NSC: Sounding the Alarm on the Opioid Crisis

The National Safety Council formally developed a strategy and dedicated its resources to fighting prescription drug overdose in 2012, after an NSC study five years earlier laid the groundwork for this important initiative. The study revealed prescription drug overdose was the fastest-rising cause of unintentional death in the U.S. However, the opioid epidemic is a rapidly evolving crisis. Since then, the primary driver of opioid overdose deaths shifted from prescription painkillers to heroin, and then to fentanyl and other synthetic opioids.

As this epidemic has changed, NSC has positioned itself as the resource for employers, families and prescribers on the opioid crisis. NSC has taken key steps towards eradicating this epidemic.

A Timeline


  • February – In collaboration with dozens of partnership organizations, NSC released a comprehensive national plan to address opioid misuse and save lives, and urged presidential candidates to adopt in order to ensure opioid misuse in the U.S. is addressed thoroughly, thoughtfully and effectively
  • February – NSC and University of Michigan released a research review on youth prescription opioid misuse and prevention


  • September – Unveiled the Prescribed to Death exhibit in Nassau County, NY
  • September – Released new Opioids at Work Employer Toolkit at a press event attended by VADM Jerome M. Adams, Surgeon General of the U.S.; Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor Loren Sweatt; Eric Talbot, assistant director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP); U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation President Carolyn Cawley; Stericycle CEO Cindy Miller; and Rex Butler, a safety professional and advocate who lost his brother to an opioid overdose
  • August – Observed the fifth International Overdose Awareness Day
  • May – Unveiled the Prescribed to Death exhibit in Albany, NY
  • March – Released a survey that showed 75% of employers say opioid use has impacted their workplace
  • January – Announced for the first time in U.S. history, accidental opioid overdoses surpassed motor vehicle crashes as the leading cause of preventable death







  • October – Released Prescription Nation report calling for state action to address the opioid crisis
  • March – Held prescription drug symposium "Preventing Prescription Drug Overdoses: A National Strategy"


  • December – Convened prescription drug expert panel comprised of business leaders, medical and pharmacy professionals, insurance industry and government experts
  • June – Partnered with National Governor's Association to provide grants to seven states to develop statewide plan to address prescription drug misuse
  • May – Launched the NSC prescription drug overdose initiative

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