Recent findings from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) shows an alarming trend in the population: a lack of treatment for those in need of addiction recovery and mental health services. This survey measures two categories:
- Use of illegal drugs, prescription drugs, alcohol, and tobacco
- Mental disorders, treatment, and co-occurring substance use and mental disorders
Looking at this data gives us an indication of the occurrence of mental illness and substance abuse among the general population (age 12 years old or older), as well as trends over time and the need for treatment services.
Findings of the Report
The vast amounts of data can be compiled down to a few points, showing the severity of addiction and the public service treatments available for those suffering in 2017. Here is an overview of some of the findings. All of these numbers were pulled from the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health Report:
- Approximately 48.7 million people over the age of 12 were cigarette smokers, which is a general decline since 2002 in all age groups
- 140.6 million Americans identified as alcohol users, with 66.6 million participating in binge drinking in the past month and 16.7 million falling in the range of heavy drinkers. An estimated 20% of people between the ages of 12 and 20 participated in underage drinking.
- 30.5 million people used an illicit drug in the past 30 days, indicating current use. 1 in 4 between the ages of 18 and 25 were current users of illicit drugs, with the majority of them using marijuana and misused prescription painkillers. In all age groups, 26.0 million people used marijuana, 3.2 million used prescription medications, and the rest participated using heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, hallucinogens, inhalants, or prescription sedatives, stimulants, or tranquilizers. Marijuana use has increased compared to the 2002 reports.
- New misusers of the most common substances totaled to 4.9 million new users of alcohol, 3.0 million new users of marijuana, 2.0 million new misusers of pain relievers, and 1.9 million new users of cigarettes.
- An estimated 19.7 million people over the age of 12 suffered from a substance use disorder due to alcohol or drug abuse.
- 46.6 million adults over the age of 18 had mental illness in 2017, with an estimated 11.2 million experiencing a serious mental illness.
It is important to consider the statistics for both substance abuse as well as mental health disorders since these problems are often co-occurring among both adults and adolescents.
Lack of Treatment for Substance Abuse
While it is alarming to see the number of people caught in addictive behaviours or mental health challenges, the most concerning numbers shed light on the lack of services that are being used to overcome these problems. According to the NSDUH, a person is defined as needed substance abuse treatment if they experienced a substance abuse disorder in the past year, or if treatment was received for substance abuse in the past year. The numbers show that 20.7 million people over the age of 12 needed substance abuse treatment, which works out to be approximately 1 in 13. But, only an estimated 4.0 million people over the age of 12 received substance abuse treatment in the past year, with a small group (2.5 million) receiving treatment at a specialty facility.
This data shows that only approximately 0.9 percent of those in need of treatment received services from a specialty facility. It is alarming to see how many people are not receiving the care that is needed. In some cases, the person was not ready to stop using. But, about 1 in 3 couldn’t afford the cost and didn’t have health care coverage to pay for the services.
Changing the Trends: Accessibility to Substance Abuse Treatment Centres
There’s no question that things need to change so that more people have access to the addiction recovery services that are needed. If addiction and mental health treatment were more accessible to the people suffering from these addictions, it would not only change their lives but also have a significant impact on the public at large.
If you or someone you know is suffering from an addiction, then immediate treatment should be the highest priority. Find a treatment centre that offers the complete range of services to break the cycle of addiction, making it possible to take control of daily habits once again.