9m Americans Abuse Drugs

9m Americans Abuse Drugs	9m Americans Abuse Drugs

An increase in unemployment, which has strong links to drug abuse, and the mass invasion of prescription opioid pain medication have all negatively influenced the arena of drug abuse in the US.

Bridget F. Grant, PhD, and her team at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in Rockville, MD, investigated information taken from the 2012-2013 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions-III (NESARC-III).

The team specifically looked in detail at the prevalence and treatment of drug use disorders (DUDs) as described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th edition (DSM-5).

They looked at data from interviews with 36,309 adults, and the study focused on amphetamine, cannabis, club drug, cocaine, hallucinogen, heroin, non-heroin opioid, sedative/tranquilizer or solvent/inhalant use disorders, reports

Results of the investigation showed a level of prevalence that might, to many, be surprising: 3.9% of Americans - around 9.1 million people - had a 12-month DUD diagnosis, and 9.1% had a lifetime diagnosis.

Specific sections of society were found to have an increased rate of DUDs. The groups most affected were: men, white and native American individuals; young, and previously married or never married adults; those with lower income and education; and individuals who live in the west of America.

The study also linked a number of other factors to 12-month DUDs, including: major depressive disorder; dysthymia (persistent mild depression); bipolar; post-traumatic stress disorder and personality disorders.

And, with lifetime DUDs, the following factors were added: generalized anxiety disorders; panic disorders and social phobia.

The study found that individuals with a DUD diagnosis experienced lower social functioning, mental health and role emotional functioning.

 Lack of Treatment

Despite, or because of, the negative influence of DUDs on individuals, the research also found that the individual often went untreated.

Those with lifetime DUDs received treatment in 24.6% of cases; the 12-month DUDs received treatment in just 13.5% of cases. The average age of first treatment was 27.7 years, around 4 years after onset.

The authors also said the public is increasingly less likely to disapprove of specific types of drug use (e.g., marijuana) or to see it as risky, and consistent with these attitudes, laws governing drug use are becoming more permissive.

Grant and her team acknowledge a limitation of the study; institutionalized individuals, such as those in prisons and active military service, were not included in the research.

“Findings also indicate an urgent need to de-stigmatize DUD and educate the public, clinicians, and policymakers about its treatment to encourage affected individuals to get help,” researchers say.