For the past four years, Gallatin County has been the healthiest county in Montana, according to the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps. The County Health Rankings assesses health through a variety of factors that include health outcomes (length of life and quality of life), health behaviors (like diet and exercise, tobacco use, and access to and quality of medical care), and policies and programs (from education and employment to the built environment).
All of these factors add up to paint a pretty nice picture for Gallatin County.
However, being first in the state doesn’t mean that we no longer have any health issues that need to be addressed. For example, in the 2012 Community Health Profile, binge drinking (which is defined at 5+ drinks for men and 4+ drinks for women in one sitting) is higher in Bozeman and Gallatin County than the U.S average. Almost one-quarter of Bozeman residents (23.3%) report binge drinking, while Gallatin County as a whole reports 20.7%.
When we’re talking about binge drinking, we’re not talking about a glass of wine after work or meeting up with friends at one of the local breweries after a day of playing outdoors. We’re talking about the kind of drinking that contributes to broader issues that include teenage pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease, domestic violence, motor vehicle crashes, and crime. You can read about the effects of drinking in the Bozeman Chronicle Police Reports every day.
You might be thinking that the entirety of Bozeman’s drinking problem must lie with those rowdy college kids. Or, you may think that this is a cultural thing that Montanans should just accept as part of being lucky enough live in the “Last, Best Place.” You would be wrong. Binge drinking is more prevalent among men and adults under the age of 40.
The Gallatin County Community Health Improvement Plan is working on addressing substance abuse issues, specifically among adolescents. After months of planning, the coalition will be inviting community members (parents, business owners, teenagers, etc.) to help address this issue. If you’d like to be involved, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you think there’s a problem in your community? What do you think the community could do to curb binge drinking? We’d love to hear from you!
Check out the 2012 Community Health Profile for more information and interesting statistics about Gallatin County.