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New National Report Shows Differences In Types And Levels Of Substance Use And Mental Illness Problems

Alcohol and CigarA new report providing state-by-state analyses of a wide range of behavioral health issues reveals that despite some wide variations among the states in the types and levels of problems they confront – every state must deal with these issues.  For example, among those aged 12 and older, Iowa had less than half the current illicit drug use rate of Alaska (5.3-percent versus 13.5-percent) – yet Iowa also was among the top 10 states with the highest levels of people age 12 and older currently participating in binge drinking (28.6-percent). Included in this report is a link to download the full national report.

The report developed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides valuable insight to state public health authorities and service providers on the scope and nature of behavioral health issues affecting their states. The report is part of SAMHSA’s strategic initiative on data, outcomes, and quality – an effort to provide the best available information to everyone involved in the behavioral health field.

Among the report’s other notable findings:

  • Fewer people in many states perceived that cigarette use can be risky. Between the combined years 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 the perception of great risk from smoking one or more pack of cigarettes a day decreased in 14 states among those aged 12 to 17; in 31 states among those aged 18 to 25 and in 9 states among those 26 and older. No states during this period registered an increase in the perception of risk from heavy cigarette use.
  • Current illicit drug use dropped among adolescents aged 12 to 17 in 17 states between 2002-2003 and 2008-2009 — no increases in current illicit drug use occurred in any state in this age group over this time period.
  • While the District of Columbia had the nation’s highest rate of past year alcohol dependence or abuse for those 26 or older (8.1-percent), it had the lowest rate among persons aged 12 to 17 (3.0-percent).
  • Utah had the lowest rate of current marijuana use (3.6-percent) while Alaska had the highest rate (11.5-percent). All ten states that had the highest rates of past month illicit drug use among persons age 12 or older were also the top 10 states for past month marijuana use (in alphabetical order — Alaska, Colorado, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont).
  • Between 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 11 states showed declines in past year cocaine use among persons aged 12 or older (in alphabetical order — Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee and Virginia).
  • Rhode Island had the nation’s highest rate of adults aged 18 or older experiencing serious mental illness in the past year (7.2-percent), while Hawaii and South Dakota shared the lowest rate (3.5-percent).

“No state is free from the unique impact of mental and substance use disorders,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D. “Data like these give states the information they can use to target their prevention and treatment activities for the greatest benefit to their residents.”

SAMHSA recently moved to help the states effectively use block grant funding to address their communities’ behavioral health challenges. SAMHSA is streamlining application and funding procedures for block grants by establishing uniform applications, assurance and reporting dates for all block grants and by offering states and territories the option to submit one coordinated plan for both the Mental Health and Substance Abuse block grants.

The report is based on the combined 2008 and 2009 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).  Using data drawn from interviews with 137,436 persons from throughout the country the report provides a state-by-state breakdown along 25 different measures of substance abuse and mental health problems including illicit drug use, binge drinking, alcohol and illicit drug dependence, tobacco use, serious mental illness, and major depressive episode. 

Material adapted from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA).

Download / Reference
SAMHSA (2011). State Estimates of Substance Use and Mental Disorders from the 2008-2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). Published online.

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