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Admissions for teen substance abuse treatment decline

May 12, 2010 | 11:49 am

A fascinating report examining the nation's battle with drug addictions released Wednesday shows marked changes over the last decade in which drugs are abused and who seeks treatment. Among the more eyebrow-raising findings is that admissions for substance abuse treatment among youths ages 12 to 17 declined 10% between 2002 and 2008. This plunge came after a 13% increase from 1998 to 2002.

The report, released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, was based on data from the agency's survey of state-licensed substance abuse treatment facilities across the nation. Most of these facilities receive public funding. The survey also showed that 79% of adolescent treatment admissions involved marijuana as a primary or secondary substance and almost half of the admissions were made through the courts.

Among people of all ages, opiate admissions increased from 16% in 1998 to 20% in 2008 while cocaine admissions declined from 15% to 11%. Marijuana admissions rose from 13% to 17% during that time and stimulant admissions (mainly methamphetamine) rose from 4% to 6%.


  • The proportion of treatment admissions attributed to drug abuse alone rose from 26% in 1998 to 37% in 2008 while the proportion of admissions attributed to alcohol abuse alone fell from 27% to 23%.
  • The proportion of admissions for abuse of both alcohol and drugs declined from 44% to 38%.
  • The abuse of two or more psychoactive drugs in combination accounted for 55% of admissions, typically alcohol and opiates.

In 2000, 24% of those 16 or older in treatment were unemployed compared to 37% in 2008.

The report, entitled the National Admissions to Substance Abuse Treatment, is available on the Web.

-- Shari Roan

Photo credit: SAMHSA