The DEA 360 Strategy to combat opioid misuse and heroin use

Rapidly assessing the impact of community outreach efforts

Faced with a rising opioid epidemic, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) needed a novel solution to disrupt the cycle of drug violence, trafficking, and abuse. To resolve the underlying issues behind growing prescription opioid misuse and heroin use, the DEA introduced its 360 Strategy. DEA awarded a contract to ICF to rapidly assess the impact of its community outreach in these efforts.

Challenge:

Assess the impact of community outreach and partnership efforts in funded cities—presenting actionable learnings for DEA decision-makers.

Solution:

Develop city-specific approaches to quickly gather critical information, aggregate metrics, and conduct interviews with community-based stakeholders.

Impact:

Five cities now have reach and impact reports to inform the DEA’s next steps: Milwaukee, WI; Manchester, NH; Charleston, WV; Salt Lake City, UT; and Newark, NJ. ICF’s evaluation process for each municipality has generated valuable data and surfaced insights from community stakeholders—creating a foundation for progress in the fight against prescription opioid misuse and heroin use.

5

DEA 360 cities with reach and impact reports

45

key stakeholders interviewed

60

metric indicators compiled

Analyzing community-level learnings

“A vision is seeing something in the future and making a change to make that happen; I feel I can have a part of a greater vision—maybe not my own vision, but maybe the nation’s vision to get rid of this drug problem.”

- Feedback from youth training participant

The DEA launched the 360 Strategy in 2015 with a targeted, three-pronged approach: coordinated law enforcement, diversion control, and community outreach. The ICF team led the evaluation work on the community front—collecting data, integrating community voices, and distilling key learnings.

Our experts used a city-specific rapid evaluation approach to gather relevant information and generate a reach and impact report. We combined public health and media expertise to identify and aggregate reach metrics, along with qualitative interview data from the community. We then employed visual storytelling to demonstrate the impacts of DEA 360.

Understanding the context of a crisis

While the DEA is primarily a law enforcement agency, its outreach efforts aim to strengthen local organizations, which then provide long-term support for building drug-free communities. The response in each DEA 360 city has been tailored to reflect the cultural context, existing partnerships, and ongoing initiatives of the community. ICF’s rapid evaluations and reports aim to capture these nuances—highlighting the diversity and richness in each unique city.

DEA 360 Cities

The DEA 360 Manchester Story

In Manchester, NH, DEA hosted a youth summit with 8,500 students to raise awareness and respond to the opioid epidemic. A local television station live-streamed the event, reaching another 35,000 students and teachers online. These activities were followed by a youth leadership training, a televised town hall, the formation of a youth coalition, and an educational campaign in local high schools. Collectively, these activities changed the youth perspectives and contributions to ending the crisis in their community. The resulting report—created by ICF—showed a meaningful impact in a city with some of the highest opioid misuse rates in the nation.

“I am really impressed with the report and still use it today. It helps us establish credibility for the entire program. We come in and tell our story, and can share with new coalitions what an independent company found about our efforts.”

- Jon DeLena, Associate Special Agent in Charge of the New England Field Division

Project lead(s):

  • Jessie Rouder, Lead Research Scientist
  • Nora Kuiper, Senior Research Scientist
  • Elizabeth Douglas, Senior Manager
  • Elizabeth Vaughn, Senior Research Scientist
  • Robin Davis, Senior Director
  • Brian Keefe, Technical Specialist