Alcohol/Substance Abuse Epidemiology Program


The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) receives federal funding to conduct public health surveillance on the effects of alcohol and drug abuse on Michigan's population.  The Bureau of Disease Control, Prevention, and Epidemiology provides epidemiological support to programmatic efforts related to alcohol and drugs provided by other Michigan and National agencies. More information on treatment services are available from the Office of Recovery Oriented Systems of Care.


Excessive alcohol use, either in the form of heavy drinking (drinking more than drinks containing alcohol two drinks per day on average for men or more than one drink per day on average for women), or binge drinking (drinking 5 or more drinks during a single occasion for men or 4 or more drinks during a single occasion for women), can lead to increased risk of health problems such as liver disease or unintentional injuries (1). While most adults consume alcohol responsibly, there is a growing need to understand the relationship between alcohol use, particularly excessive use and its harmful effects in Michigan.  

The MDHHS, Bureau of Disease Control, Prevention, and Epidemiology receives support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to conduct public health surveillance on how alcohol affects Michigan's population. Our focus consists of monitoring alcohol-related disease and negative societal outcomes with a special interest in youth to develop environmental and policy indicators for Michigan. 


Surveillance Briefs
Hours of Sale: Brief
Alcohol Outlet Density & The Half-Mile Rule
Violence and Mental Distress in Current and Binge Drinking Michigan Youth

Sexual Behavior and the Impact of Drinking in Michigan Youth 
Weight Control Behavior of Current and Binge Drinking Michigan Youth 
Self-reported Experience with Drinking and Driving in Michigan Youth    
Type of Alcohol Consumed by Michigan Youth

Fact Sheets
Getting to Zero Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fatalities: A Summary
Excessive Alcohol Consumption Costs, Michigan, 2010, Text Only Version
Youth Binge Drinking in Michigan, 2015, Text Only Version
Michigan Local and Statewide Alcohol Data Sources
Substance Use among Michigan Teens
Cancer and Alcohol Use
Alcohol Consumption and Teen Pregnancy, 2013
Excessive Alcohol Use and Partner Violence Among Michigan Women

Excessive Alcohol Consumption Costs, Michigan 2006
Binge Drinking Screening during Routine Checkups among Michigan Adults, 2012 
Self-reported Driving after Drinking among Michigan Adults and Youth
Alcohol and Tobacco Use Among Michigan Youth, 2011
Alcohol and Drug Use Among Michigan High School Students, 2011
2006-2010 Michigan & County Death Rates
2006-2010 Michigan & County Hospitalization Rates
2006-2010 Michigan & County Traffic Crash Rates
Alcohol Outlet Density Associated Harms Summary
2009-2010 Michigan Alcohol-Attributable Hospitalization Charges
Risky Violent Behavior and Suicide 
Risky Sexual Behavior 
Unhealthy Weight Control Behavior 
Drinking and Driving
Type of Alcohol Consumed by Michigan Youth
Youth and Adult Binge Drinking in Michigan 
Usual Source of Alcohol Among Michigan Youth 
Usual Location of Alcohol Consumption by Michigan Youth     

Substance Abuse
picture of prescription and illegal drugs 

Substance abuse is defined as the continued usage of drugs or alcohol to the extent that it results in significant impairment including interference with one's work, home, social relationships, or health in the previous 12 months. The nonmedical use of prescription type-drugs, defined by the usage of drugs without a prescription or only for the intention of experiencing the drug's effect, has increased dramatically across the nation. The effects of substance abuse are far-reaching, extending beyond individuals to families and society. Therefore, there is an urgency to monitor the burden of substance and prescription drug abuse in Michigan.

The Bureau of Disease Control, Prevention, and Epidemiology monitors the abuse of illegal, prescription and over-the-counter drugs to support agencies and communities in their actions to reduce the burden associated with drugs and other substances in Michigan and improve the overall quality of life of Michigan's residents. Because there is large overlap between substance abuse and mental health, the Bureau of Disease Control, Prevention, and Epidemiology is also interested in monitoring the co-occurrence of these public health issues. 

Fact Sheets
Unintentional Drug Poisoning Deaths in Michigan
Opioid-Related Hospitalizations in Michigan
Depressive Feelings and Illicit Drug Use Among Michigan Youth 

To learn more about alcohol and drug abuse in Michigan, see the reports and resources provided below. 



60% of Michigan adults, aged 18 and older, used alcohol in the past month, while 16% of youth aged 12-17 consumed alcohol. 27% of adults and 10% of youth binge drank in the past month (1).  Excessive alcohol use is the 3rd leading lifestyle-related cause of death for people in the United States each year. From 2001-2005, there were approximately 79,000 deaths annually attributable to excessive alcohol use in the United States (2).

In 2008, there were approximately 190,000 emergency rooms visits by persons under age 21 for injuries and other conditions linked to alcohol in the United States (3)

Substance Abuse 

According to data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) from 2010-2011, 10.7% of Michigan residents aged 12 years and older reported using illicit drugs in the past month. When marijuana was excluded, the estimated dropped to 3.6%  (4) .

In 2008, poisoning surpassed motor vehicle crashes to become the leading cause of injury death in the United States (5).  Since 2003, over 90% of all poisonings have involved drugs, with the largest increase in poisonings related to opioid analgesics (pain relievers) (6,7). A similar national pattern has also been seen in Michigan with poisonings exceeding motor vehicle crashes to become the leading cause of injury death in Michigan in 2009 (8).

Drug Withdrawal in Newborns

The number of U.S. newborns diagnosed with symptoms of drug withdrawal nearly tripled in 10 years due to increasing opiate use among pregnant women (9).  These newborns with Neonatal Withdrawal Syndrome (NWS, also know as Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, NAS) are more likely to have trouble breathing, low birth weight, feeding difficulties and seizures.  A recent study by MDHHS documents this problem in Michigan and highlights the increased costs due to their longer hospital stays.
Neonatal Drug Withdrawal among Michigan Infants Fact Sheet

Use of Synthetic Marijuana (known as "Spice"/"K2")

Since the increase in popularity of synthetic marijuana in 2010, new forms of synthetic marijuana have appeared.  These substances contain ingredients that act in the same way as THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.  Legislation making ingredients in synthetic marijuana illegal in Michigan went into effect in October 2010; since then, synthetic cannabinoids are added to the list of Schedule l controlled substances as discovery and investigation continues.

The Michigan Regional Poison Control Center at DMC Children's Hospital of Michigan (PCC) monitors the number of cases called in by the general public and health care providers due to synthetic marijuana exposure. The PCC reports the number of cases increased between January 1, 2010 through June 2012 in Michigan; with a total of 533 emergency department visits involving THC homologs reported.  Subsequently, the number of cases involving THC use reported to the Poison Control Center has decreased, even as more synthetic cannabinoids have been placed onto Schedule l.

Although there is no mandated reporting requirements, PCC conducts ongoing surveillance.  Hospitals are encouraged to report cases even if advice is not needed, as PCC is an agent of MDCH for designer drugs.  The PCC encourages hospitals to contact them by calling 1-800-222-1222.

Substituted Phenethylamines

Emergency department visits using cathinones, or "bath salts," became increasingly prevalent in 2010 and 2011.  These "bath salts" are part of the substituted phenethylamine class of chemicals, of which several others are also emerging.  Such phenethylamines include MDMA, MDA, and other hallucinogenic amphetamines.  From January 2012 through March 2013, 70 emergency department visits involved substituted phenethylamines. 

A complete report of Michigan cases between November 2010 and March 2011 was published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weely Report (MMWR).

Relevant Regulations

Michigan Controlled Substances Act, 2012 (MCL 333.721)
Special Report: Emerging 2C-Phenethylamine, Piperazines, and Tryptamines

Although there is no mandated reporting requirement, as part of the PCC's ongoing surveillance of designer drugs, the PCC encourages hospitals to contact them by calling 1-800-222-1222. Further information and fact sheets are found below.

Synthetic Marijuana, General Fact Sheet
Synthetic Marijuana Health Care Provider Fact Sheet
DEA Fact Sheet: Synthetic Marijuana / "K2"
DEA Fact Sheets: All Drugs


Poster Presentations
Unintentional Drug Poisoning Deaths, Michigan Residents, 1999-2009
Evaluation of the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) for Monitoring Co-Occurrence of Drug Use and Depressive Feelings among Michigan Youth, 2003-2009
Alcohol-Attributable Hospitalizations among Michigan Residents, 2001-2010

Using Market Research Data to Explore Alcohol-Related Behaviors among Michigan Adults, 2011

 Web Links 
Alcohol and Public Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY)

MDHHS Office of Recovery Oriented Systems of Care
MDHHS Injury and Violence Prevention 
MDHHS Michigan Behavioral Risk Factor Survey  
Michigan Youth Risk Behavioral Survey, Michigan Department of Education
Michigan Drunk Driving Audit,
Michigan State Police
CDC Substance Abuse and Mental Health Information


Fact Sheets and Reports
CDC Poisoning Prevention Resources
CDC Grand Rounds: Prescription Drug Overdoses
CDC Poisoning Factsheet

 Contact Us 
For more information call the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services at 1-800-648-6942.