Substance Abuse Research Alliance

The Opioid/Heroin Epidemic

The nationwide opioid epidemic started in the 1990s when physicians began overprescribing pain-relieving drugs containing opioids. From 2010 to 2017, the total number of opioid-related overdose deaths in Georgia increased by 245 percent. In October 2017, the President declared the opioid crisis a national public health emergency. In Georgia, almost two-thirds (1,043) of all drug overdose deaths were attributed to opioids that year. Like several other states, Georgia is currently struggling over how to ameliorate the suffering and death rates associated with prescription opioids and heroin, how to prevent citizens from misusing these substances, and how to intervene effectively to treat opioid use disorder and promote long-term recovery.

The Substance Abuse Research Alliance (SARA) believes that opioid and heroin use in Georgia seriously threatens the health, prosperity and general wellbeing of Georgians throughout the state across almost all sectors of life and work.

Click to learn more about opioid medications, heroin and fentanyl


Our Mission

To build a sustainable, collaborative, and multi-disciplinary network of experienced academic and professional researchers, and practitioners who share common goals of examining the causes, effects and outcomes of substance use disorder among Georgians of all ages. Additionally we strive to explore, share and help implement creative methods of preventing substance misuse and its devastating impacts on individuals, families, communities, and the state of Georgia. Together, we hope the outcomes of our work will also produce beneficial results beyond Georgia and the Southeastern United States.

We will also ensure that historically underserved communities and populations are represented adequately in public policy, data collection, research proposals and substance misuse prevention and treatment programs.


SARA envisions a future where private and public institutions effectively plan, implement, administer and evaluate substance abuse policies and programs that educate and improve the lives of citizens - across all ages, ethnicities, geographic locations, and economic circumstances.  

Strategy and Goals

  1. Research, planning, sharing and coordination between SARA participants, academic institutions, and governmental entities.

  2. Defining data requirements that help researchers and institutions to measure needs and outcomes.

  3. Improving access to data sources through communities and institutions.

  4. Improving research tools and methods.

  5. Collaborating to secure grants from both government and private funders.

  6. Finding ways to apply research through programs.

  7. Defining how to measure programmatic outcomes.

  8. Outlining the role of the community in defining goals and accomplishing outcomes.