Survey says binge drinking a problem in Monroe County

   Binge drinking by adults aged 18-20 is the biggest concern of Monroe County residents, according to preliminary results of a community perception survey.
   The survey, which is put out by the Monroe County Safe Community Coalition, is conducted every two years. In 2013, the number one concern was prescription drug abuse/misuse by adults, which ranked third this year. In 2013, binge drinking by adults aged 18-20 was ranked third.
   “It doesn’t surprise me that binge drinking is ranked as high as it is,” said Drug Free Communities Coordinator Natalie Carlisle. “I am happy to see people are acknowledging it as a problem.”
   Binge drinking is defined as consuming five or more drinks in one setting for men, and four or more drinks for women.
   Carlisle said because of social norms in the state, binge drinking is often deemed acceptable.
   “Having people recognize it is an issue is a step in the right direction,” said Carlisle.
   The Monroe County Safe Community Coalition is part of the Northwoods Coalition, which includes 35 counties in northwestern Wisconsin, including 11 Native American tribes.
   Like other county coalitions, the Monroe County Safe Community Coalition is a partnership with local law enforcement agencies, school districts, human services, the health department, faith-based organizations and community members.
   “The Northwoods Coalition puts out epidemiological profiles periodically to show the work of coalitions throughout the state,” explained Carlisle.
   The most recent profile indicates the prevalence of binge drinking among adults is 21% -- one percent lower than both the Northwoods Coalition and state averages of 22%. However, the profile also indicates that the cost of excessive alcohol use per resident is higher in Monroe County than the Northwoods Coalition and state averages.
   The epidemiological profile is a very in-depth document that focuses on alcohol, prescription drug abuse, heroin use and other drug use.
   In Monroe County, the average number of prescription drug doses dispensed was 29% -- higher than the Northwoods Coalition and state averages of 26% and 27%, respectively.
   Carlisle also noted the percentage of narcotics dispensed was higher in Monroe County. The county average was 60%, while the Northwoods Coalition average was 56%, and the state average was 55%.
   The full report can be found at
   There were 502 people who took the perceptions survey – 57% of whom live or work in Sparta, 19% of whom live or work in Tomah. There was a 5% response rate from Cashton and a 4% response rate from each of Norwalk, Ontario and Wilton.
   The respondents ranked binge drinking by adults 21 and older as the number two concern, bullying through the use of technology as the number three concern, and depression in adults 18 and older as the fifth-ranked concern.
   Meth, marijuana, heroin, other illegal drug use and bullying among children and teens filled out the top 10 concerns.

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