A new analysis from the government says that more people are getting help for prescription drug abuse now than 10 years ago. SAMHSA released the report a few days ago, and it paints a picture of drug abuse trends in our country for the past decade.
Prescription Drug Abuse Up; Cocaine Abuse Down
The report shows an overall increase in the number of Americans getting help for alcohol, opiate, and marijuana abuse. Alcohol treatment admissions originally declined from 48% in 1999 to 39% in 2005, but since then have risen back up to 44%. Cocaine abuse seems to have declined, as treatment admissions decreased form 14% to 9% during the same time period.
As we might expect, the percentage of people in treatment for substance abuse that are getting help for opiates has increased, making for the biggest statistical change in the 10 year period. Admissions for opiates increased from 8% in 1999 to 33% in 2009.
Clearly, our country is being affected by a prescription drug problem today, as we see more people needing treatment for this kind of drug abuse. “These data underscore the severity of our Nation’s prescription drug abuse epidemic and the importance of public awareness regarding the harms caused by drug use.” said Gil Kerlikowske, Director of National Drug Control Policy. “All of us share the responsibility to address our Nation’s drug problem by working collaboratively at the Federal, state, and local level to prevent drug use before it starts, expand access to drug treatment, and support enforcement efforts that disrupt the diversion of prescription drugs.” (1)
Treatment for Multiple Substances
Another statistic that helps illuminate our country’s substance abuse problem is that 44% of those who are getting help for alcoholism abuse other substances as well. “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, said in an agency news release. “People often arrive in treatment programs with multiple problems — including dependency or addiction to multiple substances of abuse.” (2)
Providing the Right Treatment
Prescription drug abuse is a growing problem in our country today, but other types of substance abuse are also still prevalent. Treatment facilities may see an increase in the number of patients they serve, and they may have growing waiting lists, but there are still many people who aren’t getting the help they need. For all those who are being admitted to treatment for substance abuse, there are more who are hiding their problem or not finding the right kind of help. It is important to find ways to reach all who need substance abuse treatment, especially those with a prescription drug addiction, in order to see a real positive trend in drug treatment statistics. With the government’s attention turned toward the prescription drug problem, and greater awareness of the dangers of prescription drugs, hopefully the statistics in another decade will show our country breaking free from this kind of drug addiction.