Persons With Substance Use Disorders Unlikely to Seek Treatment

June 1, 2007

Although there are many treatments and interventions available for drug abuse and dependence, few persons with substance use disorders actually use them, a new survey reports. The National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, conducted by scientists from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, was published in the May 2007 issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry. The survey used face-to-face interviews with over 43,000 US adults aged 18 years or older.

Although there are many treatments and interventions available for drug abuse and dependence, few persons with substance use disorders actually use them, a new survey reports. The National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, conducted by scientists from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, was published in the May 2007 issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry. The survey used face-to-face interviews with over 43,000 US adults aged 18 years or older.

The survey found that 8% of persons identified as substance abusers and fewer than 40% of those with a diagnosis of substance dependence have ever received any treatment or intervention. Rates of substance abuse and dependence were generally higher among men, persons aged 18 to 44 years, and unmarried persons. Among those with substance use disorders who received treatment, most went to physicians and other health care professionals for help, and many used self-help groups.

The study also confirmed what many others have reported-significant associations exist between substance abuse and co-occurring mental illness, including mood and anxiety disorders and personality disorders. Persons with co-occurring psychiatric disorders were more likely to exhibit help-seeking behavior.

The authors recommend developing instruments to screen and identify patients with substance use disorders. Primary care physicians should be diligent in the detection and referral of these persons.

-Cortney Mears