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Northwestern Buffett Institute for Global Affairs

Global Drug Crisis

The Global Drug Crisis group aims to build an active drug surveillance system and drug policy stringency index that deepens understanding of the global drug crisis, creating a new foundation for effective evaluation and policymaking.

About the Project

Morbidity and mortality from non-medical drug use continues to rise, costing the U.S. alone $1.5 trillion annually. Yet the global costs of the drug crisis are less understood due to a lack of data, which has hindered the development of effective policies for mitigation and prevention. This group aims to build an active drug surveillance system and drug policy stringency index that deepens understanding of the global drug crisis, creating a new foundation for effective evaluation and policymaking.

Group Members

Co-leads:

  • Maryann Mason, Emergency Medicine, Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine
  • Lori Ann Post, Emergency Medicine and Medical Social Sciences, Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine

Group members:

  • Ana Arjona, Political Science, Northwestern Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences
  • Alexander Lundberg, Emergency Medicine, Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine
  • Jay Unick, Assistant Professor, University of Maryland School of Social Work
  • Sarah Welch, Director of Evaluation Research, Buehler Center for Health Policy and Economics, Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine

Latest Work and Developments

Research Activities

  • The group is developing a global drug policy stringency index that will measure and quantify the strictness of different countries’ drug policies in addition to how strictly drug-related policies are enforced in a given country as well as other indicators like overdose deaths, drug production and trafficking. 
  • The group presented their research at two events in fall 2023.

Engagement Activities

  • In March 2024, co-lead Lori Ann Post will chair a session at the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women. She will also serve as a panelist at the 56th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in June 2024 in Geneva, where she will share her insights into the global drug crisis through the lens of human rights and shed light on the dearth of global drug-related death data.