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Michael Petruzzelli

, National Council for Mental Wellbeing

SAMHSA Releases National Survey on Drug Use and Health

September 20, 2018 | Addictions | Data | Mental Health | Comments
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Last week, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), providing the nation with a snapshot of the ongoing opioid epidemic and mental health update across the country. The report found that 1 in 12 American adults (18.7 million) had a substance use disorder (SUD) and that 1 in 5 (46.6 million) had a mental illness. More than 8.5 million, though, were found to have both a SUD and mental illness.

Among the findings of the 2017 NSDUH:

  • SUD treatment increased: Significantly more people received treatment for their substance use disorder in 2017 than in 2016 (e.g., for illicit drug use disorder, 9.2 percent in 2016 to 13.0 percent in 2017). This was especially true for those with heroin-related opioid use disorders, where treatment received jumped from 37.5 percent in 2016 to 54.9 percent in 2017.
  • Co-occurring illnesses: Approximately 8.1 percent of individuals are living with a co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorder. Further, those who have any mental illness or serious mental illness are significantly more likely to use cigarettes, illicit drugs, and marijuana, misuse opioids and pain relievers and binge drink than individuals with no mental illness.
  • Pregnant women: Several data trends indicate higher usage of illicit drugs by pregnant women including cocaine, marijuana, and opioids. Approximately 7 percent of pregnant women have used marijuana in the past 30 days with 3 percent reporting daily use.
  • Young adults (ages 18-25): There were higher rates of cigarette use, alcohol initiation, alcohol use disorder, heroin-related opioid use disorder, cocaine use, methamphetamine use, and LSD use among the 18 to 25-year-old population than their younger and older counterparts. This population also had increasing rates of serious mental illness and major depressive episodes.
  • Heroin use: While first-time usage of heroin decreased by more than 50% and treatment for heroin use increased in 2017 as compared to 2016, heroin-related deaths continued to rise in the last year. The report attributed this rise of deaths to the higher potency of heroin that is now available.

“SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health contains annual data that provides critical information which helps us understand important concepts around mental health and substance misuse across the nation,” said Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. “President Donald Trump, Assistant Secretary Elinore McCance-Katz and I share a vision for a path forward, one that involves connecting Americans to the evidence-based treatment they need.”

With Congress already poised to send legislation addressing the opioid epidemic to the President’s desk before the end of this year, lawmakers and the Administration could look to this and future data releases to shape new legislation and funding priorities in the next Congress.