Admissions for Prescription Painkiller Abuse on Rise

TUESDAY March 17, 2009 -- Admissions for treatment of prescription painkiller abuse in the United States have risen dramatically over the past decade, from 1 percent of all substance abuse admissions in 1997 to 5 percent in 2007, according to a government report released Tuesday.

Alcohol was still the leading cause (40 percent) of the 1.8 million substance abuse treatment admissions in 2007, but has declined from 50 percent in 1997, said the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration report.

Among the other findings in the Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) 2007:

  • The percentage of admissions primarily due to heroin use was about the same in 2007 as it was in 1997 -- 14 percent.
  • The percentage of admissions primarily due to methamphetamine/amphetamine abuse was 4 percent in 1997, rose to 9 percent in 2005, then decreased to 8 percent in 2006 and 2007.
  • Admissions for marijuana abuse increased from 12 percent in 1997 to 16 percent in 2003 and have remained steady since then.

"The TEDS report provides valuable insight into the true nature and scope of the challenges confronting the substance abuse treatment community. By carefully analyzing this data, the public health community can better anticipate and address emerging needs," Dr. Eric Broderick, SAMHSA acting administrator, said in an agency news release.

The TEDS report provides demographic and other information on substance abuse treatment admissions from state-licensed treatment facilities across the United States. It doesn't include information on all treatment admissions but is the largest, most comprehensive study of its kind, according to the news release.

More information

SAMHSA has more about substance abuse treatment.

Posted: March 2009


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