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SAMHSA News - March/April 2008, Volume 16, Number 2

New Data on Treatment Admissions

Alcohol Abuse Highest, but Methamphetamine, Marijuana, Prescription Painkillers on the Rise

Problems with alcohol as a primary substance of abuse accounted for 40 percent of the 1.8 million admissions in 2006 for substance abuse treatment in the United States.

The latest SAMHSA report, Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) Highlights—2006: National Admissions to Substance Abuse Treatment Services, presents details of the demographic and substance abuse characteristics of these admissions for alcohol or drug abuse treatment.

2006 Highlights

Five substances accounted for 96 percent of all TEDS admissions in 2006: alcohol (40 percent); opiates (18 percent, primarily heroin); marijuana/hashish (16 percent); cocaine (14 percent); and stimulants (9 percent, primarily methamphetamine). Of primary alcohol admissions, 45 percent reported secondary drug abuse as well.

Although the largest share of treatment admissions is still for alcohol, this percentage is markedly lower than the 51-percent share of admissions for alcohol abuse treatment in 1996. The TEDS 2006 report also reveals that, over the same 10-year period, the percentages of admissions for abuse of methamphetamine, prescription painkillers, and marijuana increased.

Although the percentage of admissions for primary heroin abuse is at about the same level it was a decade ago (14 percent), the percentage of treatment admissions for other opiates—mainly misused prescription painkillers—increased from 1 percent in 1996 to 4 percent in 2006.

The proportion of admissions for primary marijuana abuse increased from 12 percent in 1996 to 16 percent in 2006. The average age of those admitted for marijuana treatment was significantly younger (age 24) than the average age for all substance abuse treatment admissions (age 34).

Smoked cocaine (crack) represented 71 percent of all primary cocaine admissions in 2006. Among non-smoked cocaine admissions, 80 percent reported inhalation as the route of administration, 11 percent reported injection, and 7 percent reported oral.

Although relatively small, the percentage of treatment admissions primarily due to methamphetamine/amphetamine abuse nearly tripled from 3 percent in 1996 to 9 percent in 2006.

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The criminal justice system was the principal source of referral for 55 percent of all the treatment admissions for methamphetamine/ amphetamine abuse. Of TEDS admissions in 2006, 63 percent entered ambulatory treatment, 20 percent entered detoxification, and 17 percent entered residential/rehabilitation treatment.

The TEDS 2006 report is the latest in a series of yearly reports providing demographic and other information on substance abuse treatment admissions from state-licensed treatment facilities (most of them publicly funded).

The report does not include information on all treatment admissions. However, TEDS is the largest, most comprehensive study of its kind in the United States.

The TEDS report is available on the SAMHSA Web site at, or by calling SAMHSA’s Health Information Network at 1-877-SAMHSA-7 (1-877-726-4727). Ask for publication number SMA08-4313.

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What Is TEDS?

TEDS is an administrative database. States collect information on clients admitted to treatment from providers (facilities) as part of standard administrative procedures. States then extract common data elements from this information and submit them to SAMHSA. These common data elements comprise TEDS.


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