Looking at educational success and socioeconomic status for each county in Virginia, what is their relationship with drug, smoking, and alcohol usage?

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In November 2016, Virginia’s opioid addiction crisis was declared a public health emergency. The goal of our project this semester was to determine the relationship between drug abuse in each division and student performance and socioeconomic status in that same division. A strong correlation might suggest that these factors play a significant role in determining how at risk populations are to drug addiction or conversely that drug usage plays an influential role in student performance and socioeconomic status.


For drug usage, we combined three different measures to form what we call a DSA score, standing for drug-smoking-alcohol. The drug score was obtained by simply summing the rate of fatal overdoses from drug and poison for each county. The DSA score was obtained by summing this drug score with the percentage of population with smoking and alcohol addiction. We also used any permutations of this score such as DA, S, or SA each representing their corresponding sum of addiction percentages.

Drugs/poisons include: Analgesic, anti-anxiety, anti-convulsant, anti-depressant, anti-histamine, anti-psychotic, cannabinoids, medical, muscle relaxant, narcotic, stimulant, others. Fatalities are counted by locality of residence, not locality of occurrence.

We compared DSA scores against student performance and socioeconomic status and provided ways to visualize and compare this data in the hope that this would show us characteristics of the data that we weren’t able to see before.

Each county’s educational success, measured by graduation rates, and socioeconomic status, measured by composite index, came from VLDS (Virginia Longitudinal Data System). Drug usage, excessive smoking and alcohol use came from VDH (Virginia Department of Health).


In the future, we could extend this work by providing more ways to visualize the data providing more detailed statistics about the geographic areas of a given population (i.e. is there a high concentration of a particular group in one part of the state or another. We would also need to incorporate other factors to take into account the complex nature human activity.



Xiang Chen


Juliana Doebler


Garrett Folks


Chuchi Soriano