SAMHSA released the annual update to their “Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health” on September 14, 2018. Here are 10 takeaways.
#1 Prescription Opioid Misuse is Decreasing.
The number of people misusing prescription opioids decreased by 11% between 2015-2017.
There was a 15% decrease between 2015-2017 in the number of OUD or opioid use disorder cases.
#2 Young Adults (Ages 18-25) Need Attention, High Misusers of Opioids.
Transitional youth age group of 18-25 years misuse opioids significantly more than younger and older populations at a rate of 1 in 14 versus 1 in 32 for adolescents and 1 in 26 for older adults.
While adolescents and older adult populations have decreased opioid misuse from 2016 to 2017, young adults have not.
#3 Even More Education is Needed – Main Source for Misused Opioids was Family and Friends (Again)
Despite increased awareness and education, the primary source for obtaining opioids was family and friends. The second main source was from a single physician (34%).
#4 A Blanket Policy of Limiting the Prescribing of Pain Medication is Ignoring the Large Numbers Living with Daily Pain.
The main reason for almost two-thirds of people misusing opioids is the need to relieve physical pain. Cutting prescriptions and/or limiting prescribed amounts is NOT the right solution for many. There is evidence already of desperate patients turning to more potent street drugs for relief.
#5 More People Received Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder but a Considerable Number Still Didn’t.
The 31% jump between 2016 and 2017 is great to see (12% between 2015-2017) but in absolute numbers, only 1 in 3 people who needed treatment received it.
#6 Top Reasons for Not Getting Treatment for Substance Abuse Highlight that Patients Need More Counseling and Support.
#1 Not Ready to Stop Using – 39.7%
#2 No Healthcare Coverage and Can’t Afford Cost – 30.3%
#3 Might Have Negative Effect on Job – 20.5%
#4 Might Have Negative Effect on Neighbors – 17.2%
#5 Did Not Know Where to Go for Treatment – 10.9%
#7 Heroin Users Decreased but Heroin Deaths Increased.
There was a 7% drop in heroin users overall and a 52% drop in new heroin users between 2016 and 2017, but due to products laced with fentanyl the number of heroin deaths increased by 18%.
#8 Young Adult Population (Ages 18-25) Had High Rates of Increase in Mental Illness and Suicidal Tendencies.
2.6 million young adults suffered a serious mental illness in 2017 and 1.5 million received treatment. The number of young adults with a serious mental illness increased by 7.5% and this population requires attention. Major depressive episodes in this age group also showed the biggest increase of 13% with 4.4 million young adults afflicted in 2017.
648,000 attempted suicide, 1.3 million made a plan, and 3.6 million had serious thoughts.
#9 Mental Illness in the US in 2017 Affects 1 in 5 Individuals.
46.6MM people aged 18 and older had a mental illness. That’s 18.9% of the population or 1 in 5 individuals. 8.5MM people had both a Substance Use Disorder and mental illness.
#10 Progress is Seen but Much More Needs to be Done, Quickly.
Policies need to be revisited, particularly around withholding pain medications from chronic pain patients. Otherwise, more deaths from fentanyl and street drugs will continue to increase.
There is a need to move faster on already identified actions. For example, the Senate finally voted today on the “Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018” a version of the broad opioid bill that the House passed in June, 2018. The vote passed easily as expected, 99-1, but now the House and Senate need to get together quickly, resolve differences in the two versions, and get a final version signed by the President.