More Than 1 in 6 U.S. Adults, Teens Have Substance Use Disorder
TUESDAY, NOV. 14, 2023 (Healthday News) -- Over 1 in 6 Americans, adults and teens alike, suffered a substance use disorder in 2022, new government data released Monday shows.
In the survey, alcohol and drug abuse involved roughly the same numbers of people: About 30 million had an alcohol use disorder, while 27 million had a drug use disorder -- including about 6 million with an opioid use disorder.
Some folks struggled with addictions to more than one substance: About 8 million people had both alcohol and drug use disorders.
Mental illness often accompanied substance abuse, with the survey showing that nearly a quarter of adults had a mental health issue, including 1 in 12 who experienced both mental illness and substance use disorder.
The young were not spared: About 1 in 5 adolescents ages 12 to 17 – nearly 5 million youth – had experienced a major depressive episode in the past year.
“The overdose epidemic is heartbreaking. But it’s also preventable. We have and continue to make progress. To continue to make progress will require proper funding and commitment. We will not stop using every tool available to get Americans the help they need,” U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in an agency news release.
The new data is based on responses to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, a survey conducted annually by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Substance use disorders are only becoming more prevalent in the United States, with about 2.5 million more people experiencing them in 2022 compared to 2021. Suicidal thoughts also increased among both adults and teens.
“There are many different factors that contribute to the patterns and trends,” Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, HHS assistant secretary for mental health and substance use and administrator of SAMHSA, said during a media briefing, CNN reported. “We do hear, in some instances, that people are continuing to experience some of the ripple effects of the pandemic. We know that there were challenges even before the pandemic and as a function of the pandemic. We see continued challenges.”
Still, there were some promising trends, experts said.
Alcohol use among adolescents and tobacco use across most age groups decreased, and most adults who perceive that they’ve had a substance use or a mental health challenge consider themselves to be in recovery, Delphin-Rittmon noted.
Still, drug overdose deaths hover near record levels, and millions aren’t receiving treatment.
President Joe Biden has requested billions of dollars to strengthen substance use disorder services and address drug trafficking, and the new data only heightens the need for more funding, officials said.
“Congress must step up and provide the funding President Biden is requesting to expand essential lifesaving services and crack down on illicit drug trafficking,” White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Dr. Rahul Gupta said in a statement.
Visit the National Institute on Drug Abuse for more on substance abuse.