Survey: Opioid misuse decreases, serious mental illness increases among Americans

2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health shares findings this week

(Victor Moussa, CNN)

A 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) showed that opioid use disorder decreased from 2.1 million 2018 to 1.6 million one year later.

The annual survey was released on Friday by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and includes data on mental health and substance use among Americans.

A press release from SAMHSA read that the decrease in opioid use disorder is partly due to increased access to Medication-Assisted Treatment and psychosocial and community recovery support.

The survey also showed that the misuse of pain relieving medication has decreased from 2018 to 2019 for people 12-17 years old, and continues to trend downward for people 18-25 years old.

Heroin initiation also decreased by 57 percent from 2018, according to the data.

“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 in the press release.

However, the survey showed an increase in the usage of marijuana and methamphetamine among Americans.

Serious mental illness is also reportedly increasing among adults 18-49 years old. The survey shows an increase of suicidal thoughts and behaviors among young adults and adults between 26-49 years old.

The report concluded that substance abuse and mental disorders are common among throughout the U.S. Those with serious mental illness are more likely to misuse substance, as individuals misusing substances are likely to experience mental health issues, according to the survey.

“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," Azar said. "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.”

According to the press release from SAMHSA, the administration is working to expand access to treatment for serious mental illness and emotional disturbances.

“The NSDUH data provide a foundation that helps to focus resources to address the important areas of mental health and substance use issues in our nation,” said Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz, assistant secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use. “I am especially pleased to see that our opioid abuse prevention efforts appear to be working, and we will continue to deliver those important messages.”

Click here to learn more about the survey.

About the Author:

DeJanay Booth joined WDIV as a web producer in July 2020. She previously worked as a news reporter in New Mexico before moving back to Michigan.