Substance Abuse

Goal: To decrease substance abuse in Polk County.

How will we reach this goal?
The Substance Abuse Workgroup has created a workplan to address the substance abuse issues in Polk County. To view the Substance Abuse Workplan Click Here

Why is Substance Abuse an Important Issue:

Alcohol-related deaths are the fourth leading cause of death in Wisconsin behind heart disease, cancer, and stroke. Wisconsin tops the nation in wasted lives, harm, and death associated with its drinking culture. (Annual Wisconsin Death Report 2015) “We find ourselves in a culture that in some ways is tolerant of excessive, dangerous, unhealthy, and illegal drinking, which results in a host of societal problems such as homelessness, child abuse, crime, unemployment, injury, health problems, hospitalization, suicide, fetal abnormalities and early death. We must achieve a culture free of harm from drinking”. (Healthy Wisconsin 2020)

The abuse of illicit drugs, including the non-medical use of mood-altering prescribed drugs, inflicts tremendous harm upon individuals, families, and communities. Other drug problems tend to vary by geographic area, but the abuse of powder and crack cocaine, heroin, marijuana, methamphetamine and opiate-based prescription drugs occurs across Wisconsin. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health 2015, 49 percent of Wisconsin residents age 12 and over used an illicit drug in their lifetime and 14 percent did so in the past year.

Why is Substance Abuse included in the Polk County CHIP?

  • Binge drinking is defined as consuming four or more alcoholic beverages for women and five or more alcoholic beverages for men on a single occasion in the past month. On the community health survey, approximately 30% of respondents (n=1,167) reported binge drinking in the past month
  • Excessive drinking is defined as engaging in either binge or heavy drinking, with heavy drinking defined as having more than one (women) or two (men) drinks on a typical day. (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism 2017)
  • The prevalence of excessive drinking in Polk County (23%) and Wisconsin (24%) far exceeds the national goal of 8% (County Health Rankings 2017)
  • Approximately 24% of boys and 16% of girls in Polk County report having had their first drink of alcohol before age 13 (other than a few sips). This is higher than for boys statewide (21%). (Polk County Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 2015)
  • Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death in Polk County, with a rate more than twice that of the state.  Alcohol is far more likely to be a factor in those motor vehicle crashes in Polk County than in the state as a whole. According to the 2015 Polk County Public Health Profiles, alcohol is involved in three times as many fatal car crashes than in the state overall.
  • The percentage of High School (HS) students in Polk County who report trying marijuana in the last 30 days is 12.8%. (Polk County Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 2015)
  • The percentage of High School students in Polk County who report using a prescription drug without a doctor’s prescription is 14%.(Polk County Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 2015)
  • According to the Wisconsin Epidemiological Profile on Alcohol and Other Drugs 2017, the annual economic cost of excessive alcohol use in Polk County is $60.2 million dollars or $1,361 per resident

Who are the Key Stakeholders:
Polk County Community Members
Polk County Policymakers
Polk County Parents
Polk County Business Community
Polk County Healthcare Providers
Polk County School Districts
Polk County Law Enforcement
Polk County Faith Community
State Legislators
Polk County Government
Polk County Faith Community
Polk County Youth
Polk County Youth Serving Organizations
Polk County Media