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SAMHSA’s Award-Winning Newsletter
July/August 2010, Volume 18, Number 4 

Treatment Admissions: Dramatic Rise in Abuse of Pain Relievers

Increase Seen in All Ages, Ethnic Groups

The proportion of all substance abuse treatment admissions of those age 12 and older involving abuse of prescription pain relievers rose by over 400 percent from 2.2 percent in 1998 to 9.8 percent in 2008, according to a new study from SAMHSA.

Released at a special press conference at the National Press Club, the SAMHSA report shows that the dramatic rise in the proportion of admissions associated with the abuse of these drugs occurred among nearly all segments of the population regardless of age, gender, educational level, and employment status.

RADM Peter Delany, Director, SAMHSA Office of Applied Studies, presented the data results. To highlight the seriousness of the findings, the press conference also included R. Gil Kerlikowske, Director, White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP); Governor Jack Markell of Delaware; Michelle M. Leonhart, Acting Administrator, Drug Enforcement Administration; and A. Thomas McLellan, Deputy Director, ONDCP.

For example, among men, the proportion of treatment admissions involving the misuse of prescription pain relievers rose from 1.8 percent in 1998 to 8.1 percent in 2008, while among women, the proportion of admissions due to misuse increased from 3.5 percent in 1998 to 13.3 percent in 2008.

Related Concerns

The upward trend also held true among admissions for which medication-assisted opioid therapies, such as methadone or buprenorphine, were planned. Since 1998, the proportion of medication-assisted therapy admissions involving prescription pain reliever abuse tripled from 6.8 percent to 26.5 percent.

graphic depiction of two arrows inclining sharply

Other growing problems associated with the misuse of prescription pain relievers were recently highlighted in another SAMHSA study that found that emergency visits to hospitals involving the nonmedical use of prescription narcotic pain relievers more than doubled between 2004 and 2008.

“The Treatment Episode Data Set report released today highlights the significant public health challenge posed by prescription drug abuse,” said RADM Delany. “This is our country’s fastest-growing drug problem, the source of which lurks far too often in our home medicine cabinets.”

The study, Substance Abuse Treatment Admissions Involving Abuse of Pain Relievers: 1998 and 2008, was based on data from SAMHSA’s Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS)—a reporting system involving treatment facilities from across the country. The study was developed as part of SAMHSA’s Strategic Initiative on Data, Outcomes, and Quality—an effort to inform policy makers and service providers on the nature and scope of behavioral health issues.

The full report is available on the SAMHSA Web site.

Pain Reliever Abuse among Substance Abuse Treatment Admissions

Enlarge image

chart on pain reliever abuse among substance abuse treatment admissions - click to enlarge image

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies (July 15, 2010). Figure 1. Percentages of Substance Abuse Treatment Admissions within Specific Age Groups that Reported Any Pain Reliever Abuse: 1998 and 2008. Substance Abuse Treatment Admissions Involving Abuse of Pain Relievers: 1998 and 2008. Rockville, MD.

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  Cover Story & Related Articles  
Oil Spill Response

Oil Spill Response

SAMHSA efforts make behavioral health a top priority.



  From the Administrator  
Coping with the Oil Spill

Coping with the Oil Spill

SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D., talks about participating in public forums in the Gulf states. Read more.

What’s in a Term:  Latest Responses

What’s in a Term: Latest Responses

SAMHSA has received more than 250 emails in response to the Administrator’s call for comments. Read selected responses.


  Recovery Month  
Ready for Recovery Month?

Ready for Recovery Month?

September is here! Visit RecoveryMonth.gov for details on the biggest celebration yet!



  Multicultural Outreach & Data  
Campaigns Focus on Three Populations

Campaigns Focus on Three Populations

For Chinese, Hispanic, and Native young adults, new public service campaigns focus on mental health.


  Trauma  
Responding to Child Traumatic Grief

Responding to Child Traumatic Grief

When children lose loved ones, what happens then? Also read about creating a trauma narrative.

Policy Academy Promotes Behavioral Health for Service Members

Policy Academy Promotes Behavioral Health

SAMHSA recently convened a Policy Academy to help soldiers as they return from the battlefield.


  Trends  
Dramatic Rise in Abuse of Pain Relievers

Dramatic Rise in Abuse of Pain Relievers

More treatment admissions report abuse of pain relievers.

Admission Patterns over a Decade

Admission Patterns over a Decade

Marked changes have occurred in admissions for substance abuse treatment in the past 10 years.


  Statistics  
In the ER:  Reports on Suicide Attempts

In the ER: Reports on Suicide Attempts

What substances showed up in emergency rooms related to suicide attempts by adolescents and young adults?

States Report on Substance Use, Mental Health

States Report on Substance Use, Mental Health

State-level analyses update data on alcohol abuse, cocaine, pain relievers, and more.


  Women & Substance Abuse  
New Data on  Women Who Work Full Time

New Data on Women Who Work Full Time

How does employment affect women’s substance abuse and treatment?


  Suicide Prevention  
Remember the Lifeline!

Remember the Lifeline!

Feeling desperate, alone, or hopeless? Call SAMHSA’s National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).


  Medicaid  
Medicaid Eligibility & Mental Illness

Medicaid Eligibility & Mental Illness

Read about a program that helped increase Medicaid enrollment by 17 percent.


  Other News  
Treatment Directory Available

Treatment Directory Available

National Directory of Drug and Alcohol Abuse Treatment Programs 2010 is now available.

Entertainment Industry Meets with Treatment Experts

SAMHSA’s Dr. H. Westley Clark participated in an expert panel to discuss accurate depictions of substance abuse in entertainment.



  


Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration – 1 Choke Cherry Road – Rockville, MD 20857
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