A new report shows that while the overall rate of substance abuse treatment admissions among those aged 12 and older in the United States has remained nearly the same from 1999 to 2009, there has been a dramatic rise (430 percent) in the rate of treatment admissions for the abuse of prescription pain relievers during this period. The report, by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), shows that the rate of treatment admissions primarily linked to these drugs rose from 10 per 100,000 in the population in 1999 to 53 per 100,000 population in 2009.
The rise in treatment admissions related to the abuse of prescription drug pain relievers occurred in every region of the country, but was highest in the states of Maine, Vermont, Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, Arkansas, Rhode Island, and West Virginia.
The report finds that while the overall rate of substance abuse treatment admissions has remained virtually the same for the United States during this period (759 per 100,000 population in 1999 versus 753 per 100,000 population in 2009), there have also been significant changes in the rates involving specific substances of abuse and various regions of the country.
For example, the rate for admissions primarily related to marijuana disorders has climbed 33 percent—from 102 per 100,000 population in 1999 to 136 per 100,000 population in 2009. Nearly all areas of the Nation experienced this sharp rise except for the Mountain region, particularly the states of Idaho, Montana, Colorado, Nevada, and Utah.
On the other hand, the admissions rate for the treatment of primary cocaine abuse dropped by 34 percent during this same period—from 107 per 100,000 population in 1999 to 71 per 100,000 population in 2009. This drop was experienced throughout every region of the country.
"While some aspects of substance abuse treatment admissions have changed - meeting the overall need remains an essential public health priority," said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde. "The increasing numbers of people entering treatment for prescription drug abuse is the latest indicator of the severity of the problem. Concerned family members or friends who think a substance abuse problem may exist should seek help. Treatment is effective and people recover."
SAMHSA offers an on-line treatment locator service that can be access at www.samhsa.gov/treatment or by calling 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
In April, the Administration released a comprehensive action plan designed to address the national prescription drug abuse epidemic while protecting the delivery of effective pain-management. Titled "Epidemic: Responding to America's Prescription Drug Abuse Crisis," the plan includes support for the expansion of state-based prescription drug monitoring programs, more convenient and environmentally responsible disposal methods to remove unused medications from the home, education for patients and health care providers, and support for law enforcement efforts that reduce the prevalence of "pill mills" and doctor shopping.
The other major findings from the SAMHSA report include:
* The admission rate for the treatment of primary alcohol abuse was 14 percent lower in 2009, than it was in 1999, 314 per 100,000 population versus 364 per 100,000 population;
* The admission rate for treatment of primary alcohol abuse was higher than the admission rare for treatment of illicit drug abuse in 46 out of the 50 reporting states and jurisdictions; and
* Admissions for the treatment of methamphetamine/amphetamine soared between 1999 and 2005 from 32 per 100,000 population to 69 per 100,000 population, and then dropped every year through 2009—down to a rate of 44 per 100,000.