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Alcohol Still Main Reason for Seeking Treatment

By February 21, 2008

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Problems with alcohol is still the main reason that most people in the United States seek treatment, but alcohol's percentage of total admissions continues to decline in light of the 10-year increase of admissions for methamphetamine, prescription drug and marijuana abuse, according to a report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) 2006 Highlights report shows that problems with alcohol accounted for 40 percent of the 1.8 million admissions in 2006 for substance abuse treatment, compared with 51 percent in 1996.

Although in the minority of admissions for treatment, admissions for problems with other drugs are increasing. According to the TEDS report:

  • Admissions for methamphetamine or amphetamine abuse is still small, but increased from three percent to nine percent over the ten-year period.

  • Admissions for heroin abuse remained at 14 percent, but admission for treatment of prescription painkillers increased from one percent to four percent.

  • Admissions for marijuana abuse increased from 12 percent to 16 percent.

The report revealed that most of the admissions for meth abuse came from referrals from the justice system. Also, the average age of someone seeking treatment for marijuana abuse is 24 years, compared with the average of 34 years for all treatment admissions.

"While most of those who are dependent on illegal drugs are in denial, the good news is that more than one million Americans are receiving treatment each year and have started down the road to recovery," John Walters, Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy said in a news release. "They deserve our respect for having the courage to come forward and seek help. As overall drug use among young people continues to decline in America, we hope that more Americans will encourage friends and family members who are using drugs to seek treatment and help make our national drug problem even smaller."

Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Office of Applied Studies. Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) Highlights -- 2006 National Admissions to Substance Abuse Treatment Services. OAS Series #S-40, DHHS Publication No. (SMA) 08-4313, Rockville, MD, 2007.

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