June 21, 2002
Treatment Admissions for Injection Drug Abuse
|Injection drug users are at
high risk of blood-borne infections, including HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C,
through the sharing of syringes and other injection paraphernalia. In 1999,
there were about 179,000 admissions reported to the Treatment Episode Data
Set (TEDS) for which the primary drug of abuse was injected. Injection drug
use secondary to a non-injected substance was reported by an additional
This report presents characteristics of primary injection drug admissions to treatment, as reported to TEDS. TEDS collects data on the approximately 1.6 million annual admissions primarily to facilities that receive some public funding. TEDS records represent admissions rather than individuals; a person may be admitted to treatment more than once in a given time period.
Heroin and other opiates accounted for 83 percent of all admissions for injection drug abuse (Table 1). The other most commonly reported injected drugs were methamphetamine/amphetamine1 (11 percent) and cocaine (5 percent).
The number of admissions for primary injection drug use increased by 14 percent between 1992 and 1999 while admissions for non-injected drugs rose by 3 percent (data not shown). Admissions for injected opiates rose 17 percent between 1992 and 1999. In the same period the number of admissions for injected methamphetamine/amphetamines increased by 197 percent, while admissions for injected cocaine fell by 58 percent.
Injection drug admissions of young people aged 15 to 25 increased between 1992 and 1999 (Figure 1). Admissions of persons older than age 40 also increased.
Racial/ethnic groups exhibited different injection drug preferences in 1999 (Table 1). Opiates were reported as the primary drug for 95 percent of Hispanic and 92 percent of Black (non-Hispanic) injection admissions. Primary methamphetamine/amphetamine injection was reported for 23 percent of American Indian/Alaska Native admissions and 16 percent of White (non-Hispanic) admissions.
Looking at the demographic characteristics of types of injection drug abusers, admissions for primary opiate injection were 56 percent White, 15 percent Black, 13 percent Mexican, and 8 percent Puerto Rican (data not shown). One third of primary opiate injection admissions (33 percent) were female.
Methamphetamine/amphetamine admissions were overwhelmingly White (89 percent), and a relatively large proportion (44 percent) were female.
Admissions for primary cocaine injection were 71 percent White, 15 percent Black, 6 percent Mexican, and 2 percent Puerto Rican; some 37 percent were female.
Frequency of Use
The frequency of use in 1999 was highest among injected opiate admissions. Daily injections in the month prior to admission were reported for 82 percent of injected opiate admissions, almost half (47 percent) of injected methamphetamine/amphetamine admissions, and for 43 percent of injected cocaine admissions (data not shown).
Duration of Use
Injection drug users tended to use drugs for many years before entering the treatment system. Among 1999 injected drug admissions, persons admitted for injecting opiates averaged 14 years of use before entering treatment for the first time, while those admitted for injecting methamphetamine/amphetamine averaged 12 years, and for cocaine 13 years (data not shown).
Injection drug users found it difficult to maintain abstinence (Figure 2). Among 1999 injection drug admissions, 32 percent of opiate admissions had 5 or more prior treatment episodes, as did 16 percent of injected cocaine and 6 percent of injected methamphetamine/amphetamine admissions. Only 1 in 5 admissions for injected opiates was entering treatment for the first time compared with 31 percent of cocaine and 42 percent of methamphetamine/amphetamine admissions.
Source: 1999 SAMHSA Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS).
Injection of Multiple Drugs
Injection of more than one drug was reported for 24 percent of injection drug admissions in 1999. Injection of both opiates and cocaine was most common, reported for 19 percent of all injected drug admissions.
There were distinct regional differences in the primary drug injected (Figure 3). In the Northeast Census region in 1999, opiates represented 97 percent of injection drug admissions. Methamphetamine/amphetamine injection was most prevalent in the Midwest (19 percent) and West (16 percent). Primary cocaine injection was most prevalent in the Midwest and South, each at 11 percent.
This page was last updated on December 31, 2008.