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SAMHSA’s Annual Mental Health, Substance Use Data Provide Roadmap for Future Action

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Today the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration released the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). The annual survey is the nation’s primary resource for data on mental health and substance use among Americans.

Among the findings of the 2018 NSDUH:

  • The number of individuals reporting pain reliever misuse decreased from 2017 by 11 percent, with fewer than 10 million Americans now reporting misuse.
  • Heroin-related opioid use disorder decreased significantly among young adults 18-25 years of age.
  • Additionally, young adults have shown improvement with respect to other drug misuse – including declines in use of cocaine, prescription stimulants, methamphetamine and hallucinogens.
  • Use of illicit substances by pregnant women decreased significantly from 2017; this trend also extended to their use of tobacco and alcohol.
  • Marijuana use, in general, appears to be an issue of note. It continues to be the most widely used illicit drug. Frequent marijuana use, in both youth (aged 12-17 years) and young adults, appears to be associated with risk for opioid use, heavy alcohol use, and major depressive episodes.
  • Co-occurring issues must be addressed. Approximately 9.2 million adults are living with co-occurring mental and substance use disorders. Further, those who have any mental illness or serious mental illness are significantly more likely to use cigarettes, illicit drugs, and marijuana; to misuse opioid pain relievers; and to engage in binge alcohol use – compared with individuals without mental illness. Those who misuse substances (regardless of substance) are significantly more likely to experience serious mental health conditions.

“This year’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health contains very encouraging news: The number of Americans misusing pain relievers dropped substantially, and fewer young adults are abusing heroin and other substances,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. “At the same time, many challenges remain, with millions of Americans not receiving treatment they need for substance abuse and mental illness. Connecting Americans to evidence-based treatment, grounded in the best science we have, is and will remain a priority for President Donald Trump, for HHS, and for SAMHSA under Assistant Secretary Elinore McCance-Katz.”

“The NSDUH data provide a foundation that helps to focus resources to address the important areas of mental health and substance use issues in our nation,” said McCance-Katz, the Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use. “I am especially pleased to see that our prevention efforts appear to be working, and we will continue to deliver those important messages.”

SAMHSA has been working to expand access to treatment for serious mental illnesses and serious emotional disturbances. SAMHSA has been focusing its efforts on the co-occurrence of mental and substance use disorders and will continue to provide needed training and technical assistance on these issues to America’s communities.

The NSDUH report will be available at

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The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA’s mission is to lead public health and service delivery efforts that promote mental health, prevent substance misuse, and provide treatments and supports to foster recovery while ensuring equitable access and better outcomes.

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