The resources listed in the Data Portal section sometimes include links to local level data. In particular, see the Partners in Information Access for the Public Health Workforce site for descriptions of resources and links to local data, especially county level data.
Community Epidemiology Surveillance Networks
These multi-agency work groups, which study the spread, growth, and development of drug abuse and related problems, can be an extremely valuable source of information for local prevention programs. They also provide a model for the collection of comprehensive local information on drug and alcohol abuse. For more information, see the National Institute of Drug Abuse publication Assessing Drug Abuse Within and Across Communities: Community Epidemiology Surveillance Networks on Drug Abuse,available online at http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/assessing-drug-abuse-within-across-communities
These can provide information on juvenile controlled substance offenses, such as drug possession, conspiracy, possession of a hypodermic needle, possession near a school, etc.
Emergency Department Data
Activity records and medical logs are kept by hospital emergency departments. They may contain information on whether an emergency room visitation was drug- or alcohol-related (although this determination may be arbitrary). Emergency Department data may be more useful than discharge data, given the nature of most drug-related medical incidents. However, like hospital discharge data, these data may be difficult to obtain.
Emergency Medical Service Data
"Trip reports" or "run logs" maintained by emergency medical and ambulance surveys every time they transport a patient may include information on whether the incident was drug- or alcohol-related. This information is often not aggregated in a jurisdiction, sometimes not computerized, and, as with all medical information, subject to confidentiality requirements.
Hospital Discharge Data
Hospital Discharge Data are collected on every person discharged from a hospital. These may be able to provide some information on injuries and diseases related to substance use. Some states aggregate these data at the state level. This information can be difficult to get from local hospitals and trauma registries, especially in light of confidentiality requirements and staff time required to make these data available.
Medical Examiner or Coroner Data
Most states require a medical examiner's or coroner's report for each person whose death resulted from violence or injury. These reports often contain the results of tests administered to determine if the deceased had used drugs or alcohol at the time of death. The reports are collected by county and state medical examiner's offices and county coroner's offices. They are often not computerized.
While not scientific, using "newspaper epidemiology" to identify the scope and nature of local drug and alcohol problems can provide a valuable and compelling picture of your community. Pay special attention to drug- and alcohol-related crimes, as well as the police report section of the newspaper in smaller communities. Many newspapers now have online archives in which their articles can be searched. Commercial database providers can also search newspapers by topic. Your local library (or local college library) may be able to help you conduct such a search.
Police incident and arrest reports are filed and maintained by local and state law enforcement agencies (including some private security agencies, such as university police departments). Incident reports are filed when no arrest is made or citation issued. Incident and arrest reports typically contain a great deal of narrative information. Although some jurisdictions maintain computerized summaries, abstracting these reports is extremely time-consuming. However, some departments may be willing to generate summaries of drug- and alcohol-related arrests and incidents. Some states also publish annual summaries based on these reports. For assistance with criminal justice data, contact your state's Statistical Analysis Center. Contact information for these centers can be found online through the Justice Research and Statistics Association at www.jrsa.org/sac/ .
School Incident Records and Discipline Reports
These narrative reports provide information on incidents and disciplinary actions in public schools, including those involving the use, possession, or sale of substances. Unfortunately, they can be difficult to access. Administrators are sometimes reluctant to share these reports, afraid that they will cast their school or district in a bad light. Also, the data are often aggregated at the building, district, and state levels. Obtaining access to the raw data in these files can be extremely difficult because of confidentiality issues. In some cases, you may be granted access and then expected to take special steps to protect the privacy of the individuals described by the data.
Center for Disease Control: Sortable Stats
Sortable Stats is an interactive data set composed of 20 behavioral risk factors and health indicators. The site compiles state-level data for all 50 states and Washington D.C. from various CDC and other federal sources into a format that allows users to view, sort, and compare data by state, federal, or geographic regions; view data by demographic categories and historical trends for states; and save graphs and maps as images that depict state trends and incidence rates. Available online at http://www.cdc.gov/program/data/index.htm
National Library of Medicine, National Information Center on Health Services Research and Health Care Technology
This site provides brief descriptions and links to wide range of state level data, tools, and statistics. In addition to links to specific state resources, links also are included to federal and other sources of state data. Available online at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/hsrinfo/state_resources.html
Developed under the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Center for the Application of Prevention Technologies contract. Reference #HHSS277200800004C. For training and/or technical assistance purposes only.