I've just spent a profitable hour nosing around the SAMHSA Office of Applied Studies website. There, you can find lots of useful comparative information on rates of teen alcohol and drug use. For example, if you want an authoritative estimate of the percentage of youth aged 12-17 who used marijuana or binge drank in the past month, this is the place.
You can even find out how many youth met the criteria for abuse or dependence on alcohol or illicit drugs in the past year; or the percentage of youth who needed treatment in the past year but didn't get it. And there are U.S. maps showing how your state stacks up.
The information is taken from the 2002, 2003, and 2004 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). (While a more recent survey has been done, age-specific breakouts don't appear to be posted yet.)
One caveat: data isn't broken down to the city and county level. But it's available by state and by "substate regions," which should give you a reasonable benchmark for purposes of comparison.
That should come in handy next time you're applying for funding.
Are there any other similar data sources that readers would like to share?
Updated: December 08 2008