Latest federal research: opioid crisis in the US mostly fueled by painkillers

Latest federal research: opioid crisis mostly fueled by painkillers

The latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) provides the most recent estimated figures on the opioid crisis, which has been mostly fueled by prescriptions painkillers rather than heroin.

Released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) last week, the NSDUH shows that almost 12 million people engaged in some kind of past-year opioid misuse in 2016 — of which more than 11 million misused a prescription opioid painkiller while slightly less than 950,000 people misused heroin.

Over 62 percent of those who had misused pain relievers in the past year also reported that their main purpose was to relieve physical pain, and 53 percent stated they had obtained the last painkillers they had misused from either an acquaintance or a family member.  

The report also revealed that less than 20 percent of people with a diagnosed opioid use disorder received treatment for their condition at an appropriate addiction treatment facility within the past year.

Although the annual survey doesn’t gather specifics on the challenges people face in accessing proper treatment, SAMHSA explained that the NSDUH collects data on the overall barriers to getting substance use treatment.

Last year, some common reasons for not receiving addiction treatment — among adults who noticed the need — were the inability to quit using drugs and a lack of financial means to receive treatment.

During the press conference in which the NSDUH was released, Thomas Price, current U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, referred to the survey as a “major task” and “monumental effort.” He thanked SAMHSA for releasing the annual report and said that it was the first occasion in a long time that someone in his position personally received a briefing about the NSDUH from SAMHSA.

Price added that now is the most challenging part of the fight against drug addiction and that the survey brings to light the urgent need for America to prioritize efforts against the opioid epidemic.

However, the survey also included relevant data regarding other types of substances, such as recent marijuana use.

More individuals — 18 to 25 and particularly older than 26 — used marijuana in 2016 than from… (continue reading)