Assessing Drug Abuse Within and Across Communities: To help communities understand their local drug abuse problems NIDA developed this guidebook to assist in the development of a drug abuse epidemiologic surveillance systems to assess local drug abuse patterns and trends. This model can be used by states counties cities and communities. It is based on the work of NIDA’s Community Epidemiology Work Group (CEWG) a national surveillance network composed of researchers from around the country that has been meeting biannually for more than 20 years to monitor drug use and abuse trends.
Barefoot Epidemiologist: This paper by John Newmeyer was written in 1991 and is still an excellent introduction to how to begin to determine the characteristics and size of the drug problem in an area. The capture-recapture methodology will be limited by confidentiality requirements but the logic for how to begin to study the epidemiology is clear and useful.
Monitoring the Future Survey: The Monitoring the Future Survey (National School Survey) conducted by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research and funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) at the National Institutes of Health has tracked 12th graders’ illicit drug use and attitudes towards drugs since 1975. It now reports on prevalence for 8th, 10th, and 12th grade students(volume 1) and college students and young adults (volume 2).
Youth Risk Behavior Survey: Conducted by the Center for Disease Control The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) was developed in 1990 to monitor priority health risk behaviors that contribute markedly to the leading causes of death disability and social problems among youth and adults in the United States. To this end the CDC has conducted a number of Youth Risk Behavior Surveys. YRBS data are available for the US, for states, and for local school districts that chose to participate.
National Survey on Drug Use and Health: SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use & Health [formerly called the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA)] is the primary source of information on the prevalence patterns and consequences of alcohol tobacco and illegal drug use and abuse in the general U.S. civilian non institutionalized population age 12 and older. It is currently conducted by SAMHSA’s Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. Every two years SAMHSA combines two years’ of survey data to produce state and substate estimates of the prevalence of alcohol and drug use.
National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services (N-SSATS): N-SSATS is an annual voluntary survey of all substance abuse treatment facilities in the I-SATS that collects information on location characteristics services offered and utilization. The N-SSATS includes an annual survey of substance abuse treatment services and capacity in adult and juvenile treatment programs. Before 2000 the N-SSATS was known as the Uniform Facility Data Set (UFDS). This dataset is available on-line so statewide analysis can be done, as well as analysis by program type and services for special populations.
National Forensic Laboratory Information System (NFLIS) receives reports from about 95% of state and local toxicology laboratories who report the contents of drug seizures. See the semi-annual and annual reports for information on the types of drugs seized and the chemical contents.
CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics at http://wonder.cdc.gov/mcd.htm http://wonder.cdc.gov/mcd.htm is an on-line source to retrieve mortality data, including age, race, ethnicity gender, county of death and county of residence and specific drug categories. The mortality data is available soonest from the local coroner’s office, then from the state vital statistics unit, and then from CDC. The lags are due to delays in reporting the final death certificate data
The state’s health department collects data on deaths involving drugs and case rates for STDs and HIV/AIDS. The state data is then forwarded to CDC, but obtaining the data at the state level provides access to data which may lag by a year if it is accessed at the federal level.
Poison centers collect data on human exposure to many drugs, including the new ones that may not been yet seen in treatment data. The national data is compiled by the American Association of Poison Control Centers but obtaining the data at the national level may be costly.
State and local school surveys are available in some states. Check with the state education department to see if local data are available.
DEA intelligence divisions, High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA), and local narcotics officers also have data on arrests and the emergence of new trends in drug use, as well as price, trafficking, distribution, and supply information..
Reports by STD and HIV street outreach workers also are important in learning who is using particular drugs, emerging patterns, and health risk data, as well as the levels of risky behavior. The local health department also has data on sexually transmitted diseases and the relationship between different modes of use and transmission of diseases.