Alcohol & Other Drug Misuse & Abuse


The burden of alcohol and other drug abuse continues to have a negative impact on individuals, families, and communities within Marathon County. Marathon County, as well as the rest of Wisconsin, is experiencing a surge in heroin and prescription opiate abuse, which brings with it an array of public health and safety concerns. Increases in drug-related crimes, incarceration, and the number individuals with addiction are placing tremendous strains on criminal justice, treatment, human services, schools and healthcare systems.

Alcohol continues to be the most commonly abused substance by both youth and adults in Marathon County. Alcohol consumption is socially-accepted and expected activity at most community events, fundraisers, fairs, and festivals. An opportunity in Marathon County is to integrate the safe use of alcohol in our cultural norms.

Marathon County lacks a continuum of integrated care for substance abuse options, including local outpatient and inpatient services, adult residential, and youth treatment programs. Health care systems and service providers desire an enhanced coordination of treatment and care. The opportunity is to create comprehensive treatment options that make sense to those who are using them.

It is difficult for individuals that abuse or misuse alcohol or other drugs to ask for help. Community awareness that addiction is a disease is low.  Building a community that is supportive of individuals using alcohol in moderation or in recovery is critical.  Efforts to raise awareness of the culture of alcohol, addiction, and recovery have occurred, but more work needs to be done.

Community readiness to address alcohol and other drug misuse and abuse is increasing in Marathon County. There is cross-sector synergy to align and work to solve this problem together. Solving this problem will require innovative approaches through public and private partnerships. No one organization can solve this issue alone.


Creating a culture in communities where alcohol is used responsibly and other drugs (tobacco, prescription, and illicit) are not misused.

Goal Statements:

  • Change social norms, attitudes, and behaviors around substance use.
  • Strengthen community collaboration around substance abuse prevention.
  • Increase funding for AODA prevention, treatment, and enforcement.

Shared Measurement:

  • Past 30-day use of substances in Marathon County high school students (2015 baseline): alcohol (25.8%), marijuana (5.6%), cigarettes (8.2%), chewing tobacco (7.2%), e-cigarettes (N/A), prescription drugs (3.8%), heroin (N/A), and methamphetamines (N/A). Source: Marathon County Youth Risk Behavior (.pdf).
  • Percentage of high school students who report that their parents or other adults in their family would disapprove if they had five or more drinks of alcohol in a row within a couple of hours. 2015 baseline = 62.3%. Source: Marathon County Youth Risk Behavior Survey (.pdf).
  • Percentage of students who report that their peers feel it would be wrong or very wrong to use alcohol. 2015 baseline = N/A. Source: Marathon County Youth Risk Behavior Survey (.pdf).
  • Percentage of adults who reported binge drinking in the past 30 days. Baseline: 25.3%., Source: 2015-2017 LIFE Survey (.pdf).
  • Percentage of adults who reported drinking and driving in the past 30 days. Baseline: 7.3%, Source: 2015-2017 LIFE Survey (.pdf).
  • Percentage of adults who said there is a great risk in taking prescription medication not prescribed. Baseline: 2011 = 46%; 2013 = 46%; 2015 = 48%; Source: Marathon County Medication Assessment (.pdf).

Work Plan:

View the Alcohol & Other Drug Misuse & Abuse workplan.

Woman standing at a crossroads deciding which way to go