In 2015, Less Than 5% With Alcohol Use Disorder and Only 11% With Drug Use Disorder Received Treatment

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In 2015, Less Than 5% With Alcohol Use Disorder and Only 11% With Drug Use Disorder Received Treatment

According to a report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, in 2015 only an estimated 4.4% of persons in the U.S. age 12 or older with alcohol use disorder and 11% with an illicit drug use disorder received specialized treatment for the conditions.

More specifically, they noted that roughly 685,000 individuals with alcohol use disorder received specialty treatment, while nearly 93% did not receive treatment nor did they perceive a need for any. Less than 3% with the disorder did not obtain treatment despite believing that they needed it.

Also, approximately 850,000 individuals with an illicit drug use disorder aged 12 or older in the U.S. received specialty treatment, while about 8 in 10 (82.3%) did not receive treatment or perceive the need for it. Less than 7% with the disorder perceived that they needed treatment, but did not receive any.

For the report Behavioral Health Barometer, investigators examined data from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health and the National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services.

Other Important Findings – Adolescents

  • Marijuana use in adolescents aged 12-17 years dropped from 7.9% in 2011 to 7% in 2015.
  • Nearly 9% of adolescents used an illicit drug in the past 30 days, and marijuana and prescription drugs were cited as the most common.
  • Initiation of alcohol, marijuana, and cigarettes use in the past year was lower than in 2011, and 9.5% initiated alcohol use.
  • Just over 39% of adolescents who suffered at least one major depressive episode in the past year received treatment for the condition.

Also, around 3 million, or 12.5% of adolescents had one or more major depressive episode in the past year, with females at 19.5% and males much less likely at 5.8%. This percentage was higher in 2015 than it had been since 2011 for females

Adults And Mental Illness

alcohol use disorder | Just Believe RecoveryFour percent of adults age 18 or older had serious suicidal thought in the past year, a notable rise from 2011 but similar to 2012-2014. These thoughts were more common for adults without health benefits (5.3%) and those in households beneath the poverty level (6.4%.)

Another four percent of adults suffered from serious mental illness, similar to 2011 (3.9%.) Serious mental illness occurring in the past year was more common for adults in households below the poverty level (6.8) and living in non-metropolitan areas (4.7%.)

Just over 65% of adults with serious mental illness in the past year received mental health services.

Substance Use Disorders

In the past year, 4.7% of persons aged 12 year or older misused prescription painkillers. The most common reasons given for misuse was to relieve pain (62.6%), to get high (12%) or to relieve tension (10.8%.)

The most common source for the painkillers was reported to be friends or relatives (53.7%), and about 40.5% obtained them for free.

Just under 6% of persons age 12 years or older reported alcohol use disorder in the past year and less than 3% acknowledge illicit drug use disorder.

~ G. Nathalee Serrels M.A., Psychology


Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Behavioral Health Barometer: United States, 2016. HHS Publication No. SMA–17–BaroUS–16. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2017.

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