Substance use impacts nearly every community in the United States, and the Wabash Valley is no exception. The United Way’s Substance Use Disorders Council recognizes that substance use and substance use disorders are public health issues that are preventable and treatable, and believes the most effective way to eliminate substance use disorders and build healthy communities is by fostering new coalitions and expanding existing efforts across the six-county service area as well as with federal, state, and non-profit partners. Today the Council released their first Measurement Report. This report is a comprehensive overview of 3 data point measurements selected by the Council and reported on for the full United Way service area. This measurement report will become an annual report that allows the Council to consistently track and report on substance use disorders-related metrics at the local level to evaluate the efficiency of their investments in reducing the negative impacts of substance use disorders on our communities, as well as inform future investments.
Substance use and related disorders take an enormous toll on the community, which suffers as a result of alcohol- and drug-related crime and violence, abuse and neglect of children, and lower worker productivity. The measurements that the Substance Use Disorders Council selected to track provide a wide-ranging look at substance use and its effect on our community. The measurements include substance use-related arrests as reported from local law enforcement, substance use-related child removal cases as reported by the Department of Child Services and the prevalence of substance use among middle and high school students as reported by the Indiana Youth Survey. An example of a statistic from the report is that in 2020 there were 400 children removed by the Department of Child Services from homes in the United Way service area. Of those removed, 295 or 74% of those children were removed due to parent drug or alcohol use.
Richard Payonk, United Way’s Executive Director explained the importance of this report for the council, the United Way, and our community. “Our Substance Use Disorders Council has been investing in community programs and initiatives and collaborating with many organizations to address the issue of substance use disorder in our community. We know that substance use affects more than just the individual and has a ripple effect on their family and the overall community. This report helps our council to be accountable for their investments and to track the impact of our work. While this is the second council to begin reporting measurements our goal is to have all of our impact councils reporting on their individual metrics. These measurements, when all working together, have the ability to make an impact on our bold goal of moving 10,000 families out of struggles and into stability and create a stronger Wabash Valley.”
For more information on the United Way’s Substance Use Disorders Council and to see the full report visit https://uwwv.org/substance-use-disorders-impact-council/.