Substance misuse dropped in 2019, SAMHSA report says

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Data from the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, a report released Friday from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, shows that while substance misuse and mental illness continue to plague America, the number of substance users dropped last year.

According to the report, Americans with opioid use disorder decreased from 2.1 million in 2018 to 1.6 million, something SAMHSA attributed to increased access to Medication-Assisted Treatment and increased psychosocial/community recovery support.

Additionally, pain reliever misuse decreased for those between the ages of 12-25. The report also showed that heroin initiation saw a 57 percent decrease between 2018 and 2019.

However, the report did show that marijuana use has significantly increased in adults and adolescents. And methamphetamine use continues to grow.

The report also indicated that serious mental illness significantly increased in adults between the ages of 18 and 49, and major depressive episodes increased in those same adults. Those between the ages of 26 to 49 also saw increases in major depressive episodes with severe impairment, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

“This year’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health has some very encouraging news: The number of Americans with opioid use disorder dropped substantially, and fewer young adults are abusing heroin and other substances,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. “Increases in marijuana and methamphetamine use and in serious mental illness are very concerning, and we expect that these challenges will be exacerbated by this year’s pandemic. The Trump Administration has put more of a focus than any previous administration on connecting Americans with substance use disorders and serious mental illness to evidence-based treatment, grounded in the best science we have. The data are clear: We’re making progress, but we must redouble our efforts.”

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