Recently released data from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health indicated underage drinking and alcohol use among young adults declined, while marijuana and heroin use remained stable.
“There are stories of substance misuse, illicit drug use, prescription drug misuse, alcohol misuse, mental illness, suicide and an immense behavioral health treatment gap that is so important for us to understand,” Kana Enomoto, MA, principal deputy administrator at SAMHSA, said during a press conference. “The numbers are clear and their messages are powerful. Millions of Americans are affected by mental illness and substance use disorders each year. In fact, most go without treatment that could help them achieve recovery. Each number that I share with you today, every percentage, equals lives at the cusp of maintaining a balance of health and ill health.”
As part of the 27th observance of National Recovery Month, SAMHSA recently released the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) report and a second NSDUH report on prescription drug use and misuse.
The researchers noted that the NSDUH was partially redesigned in 2015 to improve data quality and address changing needs of policymakers and researchers.
Changes in assessment for seven of the 10 illicit drug categories, including hallucinogens, inhalants, methamphetamine, and prescription pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants and sedatives, may affect comparability.
In 2015, 27.1 million individuals aged 12 years and older used an illicit drug in the past month, accounting for 10.1% of Americans.
Illicit drug use continued to be primarily due to marijuana use and misuse of prescription pain relievers, with 22.2 million current marijuana users and 3.8 million individuals who reported misuse of prescription pain relievers.
Estimated rate of current marijuana users was similar from 2014 to 2015, but higher than estimates for 2002 to 2013.
Estimated current heroin use was higher in 2015, compared with estimates for 2002 to 2009, but was similar to estimates for 2010 to 2014.
Current cocaine use in 2015 was similar to estimates between 2007 and 2013, but higher than estimates in 2014.
In 2015, approximately 52 million individuals, or one in five Americans, were current cigarette smokers. Despite this, cigarette use generally declined from 2002 to 2015 among all age groups.
Current alcohol use was reported among 138.3 million individuals aged 12 years and older in 2015, including 66.7 million who reported binge alcohol use in the past month and 17.3 million who reported heavy alcohol use in the past month.
Among individuals aged 12 to 20 years, 7.7 million reported alcohol use in the past month, including 5.1 million who reported binge alcohol use and 1.3 million who reported heavy alcohol use.
In 2015, 20.8 million individuals had a substance use disorder, including 15.7 million with an alcohol use disorder and 7.7 million with an illicit drug use disorder. However, alcohol use disorder was less common in 2015 than 2002 to 2014.
Researchers estimated that approximately 21.7 million individuals needed substance use treatment, and of these, 14% received treatment in the past year.
In 2015, an estimated 43.4 million individuals aged 18 years and older (17.9%) had any mental illness in the past year and 9.8 million had serious mental illness. These percentages remained stable from 2008 to 2015.
Approximately 43.1% of individuals with any mental illness and 65.3% of those with serious mental illness received mental health services in the past year.
Prescription drug use and misuse
In 2015, approximately 44.5% of Americans aged 12 years and older used prescription psychotherapeutic drugs in the past year and 7.1% misused them.
Recent initiation of pain reliever misuse was reported by 2.1 million individuals aged 12 years and older.
Paolo del Vecchio
Approximately 1% (n = 2.7 million) of individuals had a prescription drug use disorder in the past year, including 2 million with prescription pain reliever use disorder.
The most commonly reported reason for last misuse of prescription pain relievers was to relieve physical pain (62.6%).
The most common source for last misused pain reliever was from a friend or relative (53.7%) and approximately one-third of individuals misused a prescription from one doctor. An estimated one in 20 individuals who misused pain reliever received them from a drug dealer or stranger.
“As we can see from the data released today, too many Americans do not receive the treatment and support they need. As a nation, we continue to struggle with paying for care and talking about mental illness and substance abuse disorders openly. This really helps put Recovery Month in focus,” Paolo del Vecchio, MSW, director of SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services, said during the press conference. “Recovery Month reminds us that through evidence-based treatment and services there is hope for a better tomorrow for the millions of Americans who experience behavioral health conditions and their families. We know in fact that every American with mental illness and substance use disorders can improve and most can and do recover.” – by Amanda Oldt
For more information
Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. HHS Publication No. SMA 16-4984, NSDUH Series H-51. Available at: http://www.samhsa.gov/data/. Accessed September 8, 2016.
Hughes, A, et al. Prescription drug use and misuse in the United States: Results from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. NSDUH Data Review. Available at: http://www.samhsa.gov/data/. Accessed September 8, 2016.