The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Annual Report: Health & Public Service

March 22, 2010

Drug, alcohol use high in county

Madison County ranks low in health, high in substance abuse

ANDERSON, Ind. — The county ranks higher than state averages in the usage of drugs, alcohol and tobacco, according to a local epidemiology report released in 2009.

The use of such substances, was also attributed to a recent state health ranking that listed Madison County 79th of 92 counties in terms of health.

With 31 percent of its adult population smoking and 15 percent engaging in binge drinking, the study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute found that the county is the 13th most unhealthy in the state.

In 2009, the Healthy, Tobacco-free Madison County organization solicited an epidemiology report detailing the county’s use of drugs, alcohol and tobacco.

It found that the county, especially its youth, beat out state and even some national averages in terms of abusing these substances.

The availability of such substances could be to blame.

The epidemiology report found increased alcohol availability across the county.

“The number of retail outlets per 1,000 people in the county is over 18 percent higher than that of the state,” the report noted.

Tobacco outlets were also more prevalent.

The number of tobacco outlets per 1,000 people was eight percent higher than the state, the report concluded.

Steve Ford of the Madison County Health Department was surprised to learn that 31 percent of the county’s adults are smokers.

“Why is it high? We’re not out promoting smoking. Is it a mind set?”

Dr. Gary Brazel of Saint John’s Health System said smoking, alcohol and drug use could be high in the county because of the economy, and people’s need to find stress relief.

The negative effects of drug abuse saw an increase from 2008 to 2009, according to Natalia Willemson of the county health department.

In 2008, there were 22 accidental drug overdoses and two suicides by overdose.

In 2009, there were 27 accidental overdoses and five suicides by overdose, she reported.

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Annual Report: Health & Public Service
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