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SAMHSA’s Annual Mental Health, Substance Use Data Provide Roadmap for Future Action

September 14, 2018
By: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

Today the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration released the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). The annual survey comprises highly anticipated data that help provide a statistical context for the country’s opioid crisis and other behavioral health matters.

“SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health contains annual data that provides critical information which helps us understand important concepts around mental health and substance misuse across the nation,’’ said Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar II. “President Donald Trump, Assistant Secretary Elinore McCance-Katz and I share a vision for a path forward, one that involves connecting Americans to the evidence-based treatment they need.”

Among the findings of the 2017 NSDUH:

The number of individuals initiating heroin use decreased by more than 50 percent in 2017 compared to 2016. 
Significantly more people received treatment for their substance use disorder in 2017 than in 2016 (e.g., for illicit drug use disorder, 9.2 percent in 2016 to 13.0 percent in 2017); this was especially true for those with heroin-related opioid use disorders, from 37.5 percent in 2016 to 54.9 percent in 2017.
Frequent marijuana use, in both youth (aged 12-17 years) and young adults (aged 18-25 years), appears to be associated with opioid use, heavy alcohol use, and major depressive episodes.
Several indicators for young adults continue to be a source of concern. They have higher rates of cigarette use, alcohol initiation, alcohol use disorder, heroin-related opioid use disorder, cocaine use, methamphetamine use, and LSD use than their younger and older counterparts. In 2017, 18-25 year olds had higher rates of methamphetamine and marijuana use than they did in 2016.  This population also had increasing rates of serious mental illness and major depressive episodes.
Several data trends between 2015 and 2017 for pregnant women are also of concern with data trending in the wrong direction with respect to use of illicit drugs, including cocaine, marijuana, and opioids. Approximately 7 percent of pregnant women have used marijuana in the past 30 days with 3 percent reporting daily use.
Co-occurring issues must be addressed. Approximately 8.1 percent of individuals are living with a co-occurring mental and substance use disorder.  Further, those who have any mental illness or serious mental illness are significantly more likely to use cigarettes, illicit drugs, and marijuana, misuse opioids and pain relievers and binge drink than individuals with no mental illness.
“The NSDUH data provide an essential roadmap for where we must focus our efforts,” said Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use, Elinore F. McCance-Katz, MD, PhD. “SAMHSA works daily to connect Americans living with these conditions with much needed services and supports in their communities”.

Through SAMHSA, the Trump administration is directing billions of dollars in treatment support funding to states; is creating a national hub to leverage community-level expertise to strengthen treatment access through technical assistance; is educating providers in the detection and treatment of opioid use disorders; and is expanding first responders’ access to the overdose-reversing medication naloxone.

SAMHSA has been working to expand access to treatment for serious mental illnesses and serious emotional disturbances. SAMHSA also serves as the lead agency in the Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee, a federal advisory council working with nongovernmental partners to make the nation’s mental health care system as cohesive and responsive to Americans’ needs as possible.

The NSDUH report and a video presentation of the data are available at https://www.samhsa.gov/data/nsduh/reports-detailed-tables-2017-NSDUH.

For more information, contact the SAMHSA Press Office at 240-276-2130.


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