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Monday, November 23, 2015

Over 9 Million Americans With Drug Use Disorders

Drug addiction affects millions of Americans; it’s probably fair to say that our government has not always had the most appropriate response to dealing with the problem. Addiction is an illness, a disease of the mind that has been treated as a crime for nearly a century or more. In the United States, government officials have begun viewing addiction differently in the wake of the opioid epidemic; calling for treatment over jail is a huge move towards acknowledging that addiction is not a moral failing. Nevertheless, the stigma of addiction remains a hard nut to crack, and many addicts fail to seek help for their problem.

New research suggests that over nine million Americans had a 12-month drug use disorder (DUD) diagnosis, and 9.1% had a lifetime diagnosis, under the currently accepted diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th edition (DSM-5), Medical News Today reports. What’s more, less than a quarter (24.6 percent) of people with lifetime DUDs received any kind of treatment.

Using data from the 2012-2013 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions-III (NESARC-III), Bridget F. Grant, PhD, and her team of researchers at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), looked at the prevalence and treatment of DUDs. The drugs the researchers focused on included:
  • Amphetamines
  • Cannabis
  • Club Drug
  • Cocaine
  • Hallucinogens
  • Heroin
  • Nonheroin Opioids
  • Sedative/Tranquilizers
  • Solvent/Inhalants
The researchers found that there are many factors that play into drug use disorder rates, and some demographics were more likely to abuse drugs than others, according to the article. People most affected by DUDs included:
  • Men
  • White and Native American individuals.
  • Young, divorced or never married adults.
  • People with lower incomes and education.
  • People living in the Western U.S.
The researchers point out that their findings are probably conservative, considering that the data did not include people with DUDs that were incarcerated.

"Findings also indicate an urgent need to destigmatize DUD and educate the public, clinicians, and policymakers about its treatment to encourage affected individuals to obtain help," said the researchers. 

The research was published in JAMA Psychiatry.

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