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National Survey Paints an Optimistic Picture

November 26, 2019

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health is a government study directed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Survey is an annual report involving interviews of approximately 70,000 people from the age of 12 and older. The latest report appears to be more hopeful than the last. The report found that fewer people are using many forms of both prescription and recreational drugs. The study also revealed an alarming connection between substance abuse and mental health.


According to HHS Secretary Alex Azar, "This year's National Survey on Drug Use and Health contains very encouraging news: The number of Americans misusing pain relievers dropped substantially, and fewer young adults are abusing Heroin and other substances. At the same time, many challenges remain, with millions of Americans not receiving treatment they need for substance abuse and mental illness. Connecting Americans to evidence-based treatment, grounded in the best service we have, is and will remain a priority for President Donald Trump, for HHS, and for SAMSHA under Assistant Secretary Elinore McCance-Katz."


Marijuana continues to be the most widely used illicit drug. The recent date showed that an estimated 43.5 million Americans 12 or older used Marijuana in the past year. That is 15.9% of the U.S. population. Significant increases in marijuana use disorders and use among adults over the age of 26 were noted. Also noted was a link between frequent use of cannabis and the risk of opioid use, heavy alcohol use, and major depressive episodes.


The survey showed significant decreases in pain reliever misuse for all age groups. The NSDUH defines opioids as heroin and prescription pain relievers such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, and morphine. Heroin-related opioid use disorders decrease significantly among young adults 18-25 years of age.


Approximately 9.2 million adults are living with co-occurring mental and substance use disorders. People who have any mental illness are significantly more likely to use illicit drugs and marijuana, to misuse opioid pain relievers, and to engage in binge alcohol use compared to individuals without mental illness. Those who misuse drugs, regardless of the substance, are significantly more likely to experience severe mental health conditions.



SOURCES: NSDUH, HHS, Quest Diagnostics

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