NDEWS grew out of NIDA’s unique national epidemiology network, the Community Epidemiology Workgroup (CEWG), which was founded in 1976 and held its final meeting in June 2014. For 38 years, the Community Epidemiology Workgroup (CEWG) was the foundation for monitoring current and emerging drug problems and related health and social consequences and reporting out in a timely fashion. Substance abuse experts representing approximately two dozen state and local sites met twice a year to identify and discuss changing drug use and abuse patterns, trends, and issues.
CEWG representatives presented information on drug abuse patterns and trends in their areas using a combination of national and local data sources. In addition, presentations were made at each meeting by researchers in the CEWG host city or with expertise on a particular topic, by Federal personnel on key data sets used by CEWG representatives, and on drug abuse patterns and trends in other countries. Through this process, CEWG representatives alerted meeting participants to new potential drugs of abuse and trends and issues requiring further monitoring and research.
The CEWG areas on which presentations were made at the June 2014 meeting included 20 cities and states. The NDEWS Coordinating Center will work with the former CEWG representatives from these areas through the NDEWS Network, a virtual community of more than 1,700 scientists, government officials, public health experts, law enforcement representatives, and others. In addition, 12 of the former CEWG areas are now NDEWS Sentinel Community Sites.