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SAMHSA News Release

Date: 4/3/2014 11:00 AM
Media Contact: SAMHSA Press Office
Telephone: 240-276-2130

Gender differences are an important factor when examining patterns in substance abuse

Information from new SAMHSA report can assist with designing outreach, prevention and treatment programs

Of the 1.8 million admissions to substance abuse treatment facilities in 2011, about 609,000 were female and 1.2 million were male, according to a new report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). 


Data from the 2011 Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) showed that a larger proportion of female admissions aged 12 to 17 reported alcohol as the substance they primarily abuse, while a larger proportion of male admissions in the same age group reported marijuana as the substance they primarily abuse. Among those 65 and older, the instances of female admissions reporting they primarily abuse prescription painkillers was almost 3 times that of male admissions.


“This report provides insight into how age and gender relate to substance abuse, said SAMHSA Chief Medical Officer Elinore McCance-Katz. “SAMHSA believes that health care professionals can use this information in designing programs that are better tailored to effectively meet the treatment needs of both genders.”


An example of a gender-specific grant program administered by SAMHSA is the Pregnant and Postpartum Women (PPW) program. The purpose of this program is to expand the availability of comprehensive, residential substance abuse treatment, prevention, and recovery support services for pregnant and postpartum women and their minor children, including services for non-residential family members of both the women and children. The PPW program supports evidence-based parenting and treatment models including trauma-specific services in a trauma-informed context.

The report entitled, Gender Differences in Primary Substance of Abuse across Age Groups, is based on findings from SAMHSA’s 2011 Treatment Episode Date Set (TEDS) – a national system of tracking annual admissions to substance abuse treatment facilities throughout the nation.

The complete report findings are available on the following SAMHSA web sites:


For more information about SAMHSA visit our website:

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA's mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America's communities.

Last updated: 4/3/2014 11:02 AM

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