Admission to Substance Abuse Rehab on the Rise

Study Shows Increase in Treatment Program Admissions for Abuse of Prescription Opiates

From the WebMD Archives

June 23, 2011 -- Admissions to treatment programs among people ages 12 and over for alcohol, marijuana, and opiate problems have risen significantly in recent years, according to a new federal report.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) says one of the most notable shifts between 1999 and 2009 was in a rise of admissions related to prescription opiates such as hydrocodone (Lortab, Norco, Vicodin, Zydone), methadone (Dolophine, Methadose), and oxycodone (Endocet, Lynox, OxyContin, Percocet, Tylox). That category almost quadrupled, increasing from 8% of all opiate admissions in 1999 to 33% in 2009.

SAMHSA also says that program treatment admissions related to alcohol, which had decreased from 48% in 1999 to 39% in 2005, increased steadily to 42% in 2009.

The report also says that:

  • Alcohol was the leading primary substance of abuse for treatment admissions for all major ethnic and racial groups except people of Puerto Rican descent, who were admitted most frequently for opiate abuse.
  • Marijuana admissions rose from 13% in 1999 to 18% in 2009 in the 12 and over age group. About 74% of marijuana admissions involved males and 48% involved non-Hispanic whites.
  • Marijuana was the primary or secondary reason for substance abuse treatment in 86% of all admissions involving young people between age 12 and 17.

Admissions for Cocaine Are Decreasing

The report also says admission levels dropped in two categories in the 1999-2009 time frame. Cocaine admissions fell from 14% in 1999 to 9% in 2009. Admissions due to methamphetamine or amphetamines dropped from 9% in 2005 to 6% in 2009. That decline followed an increase from 4% in 1999 to 9% in 2005.

SAMHSA says five substance groups accounted for 96% of the nearly 2 million admissions of people aged 12 and older in 2009 to rehabilitation treatment programs. Of that total:

  • 42% were for alcohol
  • 21% for opiates
  • 18% for marijuana
  • 9% for cocaine
  • 6% for methamphetamine and/or amphetamines

The SAMHSA report's data come from the Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS), a reporting system involving treatment facilities around the country. The TEDS report says admissions for alcohol abuse alone represented 23% of treatment program admissions among those 12 and over in 2009.


The TEDS statisticians found that the average age to a treatment program for alcohol only was 40.

In a more detailed breakdown of heroin treatment program admissions among those 12 and older, SAMHSA says:

  • Admission to programs for heroin use rose from 15% in 1999 to 16% in 2001.
  • Heroin represented 92% of all opiate admissions in 1999 but declined to about 67% in 2009.
  • 65% of primary heroin admissions involved males.
  • Average age of admissions to heroin programs was 35.

"This new report shows the challenge our nation's health system must address as the treatment needs of people with drug and alcohol problems continue to evolve," SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, JD, says in a news release. "People often arrive in treatment programs with multiple problems, including dependency or addiction to multiple substances of abuse. As health care reform continues to improve the delivery of health services in our country, this type of information will increasingly be used to inform the needs of an integrated system of care."

WebMD Health News Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD on June 16, 2011



News release, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) 1999-2009.

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