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SAMHSA’s Award-Winning Newsletter
July/August 2010, Volume 18, Number 4 

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Changes in Admission Patterns Over a Decade

Substance Use Treatment Data from 1998 to 2008

Over the decade from 1998 to 2008, marked changes have occurred in some patterns of substance use treatment admissions, according to a recent report from SAMHSA.

The report, Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS), 1998–2008: National Admissions to Substance Abuse Treatment Services, presents national-level data and trends for the past decade.

Information is included on the demographic and substance abuse characteristics of people age 12 and older admitted to treatment for abuse of alcohol or drugs in facilities that report to individual state administrative data systems.

Although concurrent abuse of both alcohol and drugs remained widespread, the proportion of treatment admissions for the co-abuse of these substances declined gradually during this period from 44 percent to 38 percent.

At the same time, the proportion of treatment admissions attributed to drug abuse alone rose steadily from 26 percent in 1998 to 37 percent in 2008, while the proportion of admissions attributed to alcohol alone fell from 27 percent in 1998 to 23 percent in 2008.

The study shows other important trends over the past decade among admissions age 12 and older, including the following trends in admissions by primary substance of abuse:

  • Opiate admissions rose from 16 percent of admissions in 1998 to 20 percent in 2008.
  • Cocaine admissions declined from 15 percent in 1998 to 11 percent in 2008.
  • Marijuana admissions increased from 13 percent in 1998 to 17 percent in 2008.
  • Stimulant admissions rose from 4 percent in 1998 to 6 percent in 2008.

Age Distribution Changes

The age distribution of TEDS admissions age 12 and older changed between 1998 and 2008. (See chart.) The chart shows the following:

  • Admissions for ages 30 to 44 made up 49 percent of TEDS admissions in 1998, but only 36 percent in 2008.
  • The proportion of admissions for ages 45 and older increased from 15 percent in 1998 to 24 percent in 2008.
  • The proportion of admissions for ages 18 to 29 years increased from 28 percent in 1998 to 33 percent in 2008.

Admissions for substance abuse treatment among persons age 12 to 17 increased by 13 percent between 1998 and 2002, but declined by 10 percent between 2002 and 2008. In addition, about four in five (79 percent) of adolescent treatment admissions involved marijuana as a primary or secondary substance.

In 2008, 55 percent of all admissions reported polydrug abuse (the use of two or more psychoactive drugs in combination). Alcohol and opiates were reported more often as primary substances than as secondary substances. Overall, 61 percent of all treatment admissions reported alcohol as a substance of abuse (41 percent as primary), and 27 percent of all admissions involved opiate abuse (20 percent as primary).

Download Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) 1998–2008: National Admissions to Substance Abuse Treatment Services. To order a hard copy, call 1-877-SAMHSA-7 (1-877-726-4727). Request publication number SMA09-4471.

Age at Admission to Substance Abuse Treatment

Enlarge image

chart on age at Admission to substance abuse treatment - click to enlarge image

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies. Figure 2. Age at Admission: TEDS 1998–2008 and U.S. Population 2008. Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) 1998–2008: National Admissions to Substance Abuse Treatment Services. Rockville, MD.

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