Healthy People 2020 lists Injury and Violence, Substance Abuse, and Tobacco all as Leading Health Indicators. Motor vehicle crashes, domestic and school violence, child abuse and neglect, suicide, and unintentional drug overdoses are all public health concerns in the US. Additionally, the use of mind- and behavior-altering substances continues to take a major toll on the health of individuals and families in our communities nationwide. Often going hand-in-hand with these health indicators, tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the US.
A number of risk factors are associated with these three health indicators. They include:
- The physical environment, both in the home and the community
- Race, ethnicity
- Income level
- Educational attainment
- Sexual orientation
- Interpersonal, household, and community dynamics
- Family, social networks, and peer pressure
- Smoke-free protections available (Ex. tobacco prices & taxes, prevention programs, tobacco free policies)
Healthy NC 2020 lists Injury, Substance Abuse, and Tobacco Use as leading focus areas for our state. Through evidence based strategies, our state hopes to achieve the following outcomes:
The 2011 Community Health Assessment identified substance abuse prevention as a health priority. An action team emerged and worked diligently to reduce the percentage of 12-19 year old students that reported the use of illicit drugs, alcohol, and tobacco within the past 30 days. Over the course of four years, the action team saw a new health priority emerge in this field and responded-- we incorporated the Project Lazarus model into our action plan to increase the knowledge and awareness about prescription drug abuse, reduce the presence of unwanted medication in our community, educate the public about naloxone, and reduce the prescription drug overdose rate in Jackson County.
During both primary and secondary data collection for the 2015 CHA, we learned unintentional injuries were a health issue in our community. Community members used the following criteria to determine if injury prevention and substance abuse was a leading health priority:
- How important or relevant is this issue?
- What will we get out of addressing this issue or how impactful is it?
- Can we adequately address this issue or how feasible is it?
Ranking high on each criteria, community members determined that Injury and Substance Abuse Prevention is a health priority for Jackson County.
Action Team chair, Charles Easton, participates in a community event to share information about Project Lazarus.