SAMHSA’s recently released annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) provides insights into substance use and mental health in the United States. Updated information on opioid use – including heroin and prescription pain medications – offers behavioral health providers a snapshot on prevalence and use that can be helpful to develop effective treatment and recovery supports.
In 2016, 11.8 million people over the age of 12 misused opioids in the past year and the majority of that (11.5 million) is pain reliever misuse rather than heroin use.
Following are some featured highlights from the National Recovery Month Press Conference.
The annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) includes data from over 67,500 people over the age of 12 in America. This data report reveals the current state of substance use, mental illness, and associated treatment. The survey has been completed every year since 1990, revealing trends in substance use, dependence, and mental illness.
Approximately 11.8 million individuals misused opioids in 2016 – or 4.4 percent of population of people over the age of 12. The vast majority, 11.5 of the 11.8 million opioid misusers, were misusing prescription pain relievers.
In 2016, the number of past year prescription pain reliever misusers aged 12 or older decreased by one million from 12.5 million in 2015 to 11.5 million in 2016. The rate of those receiving past year specialty treatment for a heroin use disorder outpaces the rate of those receiving treatment for a prescription pain reliever disorder – 37.5 percent compared to 17.5 percent.
From the period 2002 through 2016, the U.S. has witnessed a 2.35 fold (135 percent) increase in the number of heroin users while the nation has been jolted by a 6.33 fold (533 percent) increase in the number of deaths attributable to heroin.
Marijuana remains the most widely used illicit drug accounting for 13.9 percent of the total U.S. population aged 12 or older, or 37.6 million people.
Prescription psychotherapeutics are the next most widely misused substance, with 6.9 percent of the total U.S. population aged 12 or older or 18.7 million people. Prescription pain relievers – opioids – were the most commonly misused psychotherapeutic.
In 2016, 7.5 percent of Americans aged 12 or older— approximately 20.1 million people— had a substance use disorder in the past year. Of those, about 1 in 3 (36.7 percent) struggled with illicit drug use; about 3 in 4 (74.9 percent) struggled with alcohol use; and about 1 in 9 (11.7 percent) had both an alcohol use disorder and an illicit drug use disorder.
18.3 percent or 44.7 million adults over the age of 18 experienced mental illness in the past year.
3.4 percent or 8.2 million adults over the age of 18 had both a substance use disorder and a mental illness in the past year.
Since 2008, prevalence rates of serious mental illness (SMI) among young adults aged 18 to 25 has increased from 3.8 percent to 5.9 percent. There were higher rates in 2016 than estimates from any year prior; this increase was unique to young adults and was not seen among adults over age 26. Of those who experienced SMI in the past year, 51.5 percent of young adults received mental health services.
Estimates from 2015 and 2016 for young adults have been higher each year compared to prior years (2008 to 2014) on suicidal thoughts, plans, and attempts. It has remained stable for those aged 26-49 and 50 or older.
Only 6.9 percent of those aged 12 or older with past year substance use disorder received treatment at a specialty treatment facility – leaving 93.1 percent of Americans without the treatment they need. Of adults aged 18 or older with serious mental illness, 64.8 percent received treatment – leaving over 35 percent (35.2 percent) without needed mental health services.