Friday, September 5, 2014

SAMHSA Celebrates 25 Years of National Recovery Month and Releases Data on Substance Abuse

Yesterday, mental health experts and those recovering from mental illness, including substance use disorders, gathered at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., to celebrate the 25th anniversary of National Recovery Month, which is sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).“[For] a quarter of a century, we have been illuminating, defining, validating, and shaping a concept into a fact that people do recover from addiction and mental illness,” said SAMHSA Administrator, Pamela Hyde, J.D., in addressing the audience (photo above). “[Today] we acknowledge and celebrate that reality.”

As part of the celebration, SAMHSA released some of the data from its 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). “An estimated 24.6 million Americans 12 years and older were current drug users,” Hyde reported, emphasizing that means more than 9% of the U.S. population acknowledged drug use at the time of the survey. Marijuana was the most commonly used illicit drug, with 19.8 million individuals saying they used it in the month prior to the survey. The next most common example of illicit drug use was nonmedical use of prescription pain relievers, used by 4.5 million individuals. Alcohol use was estimated to be prevalent in about half (52.2%) of the U.S. population aged 12 and older, with 60.1 million individuals acknowledging binge drinking. SAMHSA reported that of the people who needed treatment for a substance use disorder or alcohol use disorder, only 11% received help.

The latest NSDUH survey also found that drug use is up slightly from last year. Hyde stated that the alarming rates of drug use, especially marijuana use, may be a result of a growing perception that the use of one drug is less harmful than another. "'Social norms' have to change," said Hyde, "or else we are going to keep meeting here every fall and sharing the same problem. We will be watching [these trends] closely over the next few years."

To view available data from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, click here. For information on the risk perception of certain illicit drugs, see the Psychiatric News article, "News Is Mixed on Teenagers and Substance Use."

(Image: Vabren Watts/Psychiatric News)


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