Investigating Drug Use in the State of South Dakota Through Syndrome Surveillance

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South Dakota is diverse from the rest of the country in many ways. Specifically, the drug use in this state does not reflect the national opiate trends; South Dakota is stuck in a “meth bubble”, and according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 0.88% of South Dakota’s population has used methamphetamine. Understanding the scope of addiction in a population requires a multifaceted approach. One method for assessing addiction is through overdose mortality; however, it does not consider deaths from diseases caused by substance use such as tobacco. A second method is the SAMHSA survey which calls individuals in each location and asks about their drug use habits. This method does not consider individuals without a permanent residence or telephone number, i.e. homeless persons, and relies on self-report. The Syndromic Surveillance System records the symptoms a patient exhibits when admitted to the ER, as well as the patient’s diagnosis. This project utilized the Syndromic Surveillance System to explore emergency room usage related to drug use across South Dakota. The current study investigated age, sex, and geographic differences in drug use events. Results demonstrated sex and age differences in the number of emergency room visits related to drug use events. These findings can help provide a better understanding of the scope of substance use disorders in South Dakota.

First Advisor

Lisa McFadden

Research Area

Basic Biomedical Science

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