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Treatment Admissions For Prescription Pain Killers On The Rise

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Treatment admissions for prescription pain killer misuse has risen dramatically over the past decade – from constituting 1 percent of all admissions in 1997 to now representing 5 percent, according to a report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) 2007 Highlights report also indicates that although alcohol-related admissions still account for the largest share (40 percent) of the 1.8 million treatment admissions occurring throughout the country during 2007, this reflects a reduction from 50 percent in 1997.

The TEDS 2007 Highlights report is the latest in a series of yearly reports, developed by SAMHSA, providing demographic and other information on substance abuse treatment admissions from state licensed treatment facilities (most of them publicly-funded) across the country. Although it does not include information on all treatment admissions, it is the largest, most comprehensive study of its kind and provides a vast array of specialized data on the characteristics of substance abuse treatment in the United States.

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Among the findings:

• The percentage of treatment admissions for primary heroin abuse is at about the same level it was a decade ago (14 percent).

• The percentage of treatment admissions primarily due to methamphetamine/amphetamine abuse is relatively small. Admissions accounted for 4 percent in 1997, rose to 9 percent in 2005, then decreased to 8 percent in 2006 and remained at 8 percent in 2007.

• Even though the proportion of admissions for primary marijuana abuse increased from 12 percent in 1997 to 16 percent in 2003, admissions have remained steady at 16 percent each year after.

“The TEDS report provides valuable insight into the true nature and scope of the challenges confronting the substance abuse treatment community,” said SAMHSA Acting Administrator Eric Broderick, D.D.S., M.P.H. “By carefully analyzing this data, the public health community can better anticipate and address emerging needs.”