SAMHSA reports 10 years of trends in alcohol- and substance-abuse treatment

January 25, 2011

The United States Department of Health and Human Services division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has released a study examining trends of admissions to U.S. substance abuse treatment facilities of people aged 12 years and over, during the period from 1998 to 2008.

The United States Department of Health and Human Services division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has released a study examining trends of admissions to U.S. substance abuse treatment facilities of people aged 12 years and over, during the period from 1998 to 2008.

Using the Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS), an admission-based system that does not represent individuals, 6 substance groups accounted for the majority of the nearly 2 million TEDS admissions in 2008: alcohol, opiates, marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine/amphetamine, and heroin. Of the 1,893,640 total admissions reported by 48 states (Alaska and Georgia did not report for that year), District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, 68% (1,286,458) were male admissions and 606,775 were female.

Overall, the national treatment admission rate increased by 11%, which the report said reflected the same 10-year population increase for people aged 12 years and over. There were very few racial/ethnic demographic changes from 1998: non-Hispanic whites stayed within 58% to 60% of admissions; slight declines in the proportion of non-Hispanic blacks from 25% to 21%; and admissions of Hispanic origin increased from 11% to 14%.

The treatment rate for primary alcohol abuse declined steadily and was 15% lower in 2008 than 1998, and alcohol-abuse admission rates were lower in all census divisions except the West North Central. However, the 2008 primary alcohol-abuse rates were higher than those for use of any of the major illicit drugs in each census division and in 42 of the 50 reporting states and jurisdictions.

Marijuana-use admission rates were 31% higher in 2008 and consistently highest in the West North Central and Middle Atlantic divisions.

Cocaine-use admissions saw an overall decline in 10 years and were 23% lower in 2008 in all 9 census divisions. The methamphetamine/amphetamine-abuse rates, however, jumped 53%, with 32 treatment admissions per 100,000 persons in 1998, peaking in 2005 to 70 admissions, then steadily declining to 49 per 100,000 through 2008. Rates were highest in the Pacific division followed by the Mountain and West North Central regions.

SAMHSA said interpretation and comparability is affected by the reporting process, which is based on census division and by state or jurisdiction, and by the differences in each state of data collection, individual health mandates, public funds appropriated for special programs or populations, and more.

Peter Delaney, PhD, Director of SAMHSA’s Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality commented on the value of understanding regional differences in treatment admissions.

“SAMHSA’s survey reports rates of admissions for a wide variety of substances for each state, and while we cannot answer definitively as to why the rates vary among regions, the information informs public health officials as to how to best direct limited resources and meet the treatment needs of people across the country.”

Downloads and hard copies of the report can be obtained at http://wwwdasis.samhsa.gov/teds08/teds2k8sweb.pdf or by calling SAMHSA’s Health Information Network at 1-877-SAMHSA-7 (1-877-726-4727).