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Treatment for Prescription Drug Abuse, Alcohol Abuse Problems on the Rise


Treatment admissions for prescription drug abuse and alcohol abuse problems are on the rise, according to a new report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The report found that in 2009, opioids accounted for 33 percent of admissions related mostly to prescription drugs, up from 8 percent in 1999. The percentage of alcohol-related admissions had declined from 48 percent in 1999 to 39 percent in 2005, but rose to 44 percent in 2009, USA Today reports.

Five substance groups accounted for 96 percent of the almost 2 million admissions of people 12 and older in 2009. These include: alcohol (42 percent), opioids (21 percent), marijuana (18 percent), cocaine (9 percent) and methamphetamine/amphetamines (6 percent).

Marijuana was the primary or secondary reason for substance abuse treatment in 86 percent of admissions among teenagers, the article notes.

“This new report shows the challenge our nation’s health system must address as the treatment needs of people with drug and alcohol problems continue to evolve,” SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D., said in a news release. “People often arrive in treatment programs with multiple problems – including dependency or addiction to multiple substances of abuse. As health care reform continues to improve the delivery of health services in our country, this type of information will increasingly be used to inform the needs of an integrated system of care.”

2 Responses to this article

  1. Steve Westen / June 29, 2011 at 8:38 am

    Those teenage marijuana offenders in treatment are mainly there due to a diversionary program. So many teenagers are caught with a small amount of cannabis (to which they aren’t addicted to (not most, though I am sure some are)) and then sent to treatment, since they have a “problem”, to which they really don’t. It’s just the fact that cannabis is illegal that sends these teenagers to treatment. p.s I’m an addictions counselor and see this often.

    Plus, these “cannabis addicts” are taking up space in our treatment centers that could be used for people with serious addiction problems; not court ordered people caught with a bag of cannabis.

  2. Dick Dillon / June 27, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    In the world of 2011, data from 2009 is “old news” and hardly a compelling way to attract the attention of funders and policy makers. One can only hope that efforts to strengthen medical and other record keeping will put us in a position to report on what happened last week, not last year (or two years ago)!

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