March 7, 2008
New Report Finds Variation in Substance Abuse among States; All Face Challenges
RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. -- A new report providing analyses of substance use and mental health patterns occurring in each state reveals that there are wide variations among the states in problems like illicit drug use and underage drinking, but that no state was immune from these problems.
The report, prepared by researchers at the Office of Applied Studies, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and RTI International, shows that although there are some differences in the patterns of substance use and mental health problems experienced among states and regions, all parts of the country are seriously affected by these problems.
For example, past month use of alcohol among persons aged 12 to 20 (underage use of alcohol) ranged from a low of 21.5 percent in Utah to a high of 38.3 percent in Vermont. Yet Utah had the highest level of people age 18 or older reporting serious psychological distress in the past year (14.4 percent), while Hawaii had the lowest level (8.8 percent).
"This report shows that although states may be uniquely affected by serious public health problems like underage drinking, every state and region must confront these issues," said SAMHSA Administrator Terry Cline, Ph.D. "By highlighting the nature and scope of the challenges affecting each state, we can help focus and target substance abuse and mental illness prevention and treatment resources."
State Estimates of Substance Use is based on the 2005-2006 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) and provides state-level estimates for 23 measures of substance use and mental health problems, including underage drinking, use of illicit drugs, serious psychological distress, major depression, and tobacco use. These estimates are based on combined data collected from 136,110 respondents surveyed in 2005 and 2006 (the most recent data available). The report also reveals statistically significant changes that have occurred within each state between 2004-2005 and 2005-2006.
Notable findings in this report include:
Underage Alcohol Use and Binge Drinking
Georgia had the lowest level of past month underage binge drinking of alcohol (15.2 percent), and North Dakota had the highest level (28.5 percent).
Increases in underage drinking levels between the 2004-2005 and 2005-2006 NSDUH surveys occurred in Arkansas (from 25.2 to 28.7 percent), Nevada (from 25.1 to 27.9 percent), and Vermont (from 34.0 to 38.3 percent). Arkansas and Vermont also experienced increases in underage binge alcohol use during this same period (Arkansas from 17.0 to 19.4 percent, and Vermont from 24.5 to 28.0 percent).
South Dakota's and Wisconsin's levels for underage drinking decreased from 38.3 to 34.1 percent, and from 39.5 to 35.4 percent respectively. These two states also experienced declines in the level of underage binge drinking (South Dakota dropped from 27.0 to 23.7 percent and Wisconsin went from 28.1 percent to 25.1 percent).
Illicit Drug Use
Past month use of illicit drugs for all persons aged 12 or older ranged from a low of 5.7 percent in North Dakota to a high of 11.2 percent in Rhode Island. The percentage of persons aged 12 or older who used an illicit drug in the past month increased in the period between the 2004-2005 and 2005-2006 NSDUH surveys in Washington state from 8.5 to 10 percent. The level decreased in Kentucky during this period from 8.4 to 7.0 percent.
Utah had the lowest level of past month marijuana use among persons age 12 or older (4.3 percent). Vermont had the highest level of past month marijuana use among the same age group (9.7 percent).
In 2005-2006, Oklahoma had the highest percentage (6.7 percent) of persons aged 12 or older using pain relievers for nonmedical purposes in the past year. Hawaii, New Jersey, and South Dakota had the lowest rate in the Nation -3.9 percent.
Utah had the lowest prevalence level for past month tobacco use among persons aged 12 or older (22.1 percent). West Virginia had the highest level for this age group (40.6 percent).
Two states showed increases in past month tobacco use among persons 12 or older between the 2004-2005 and 2005-2006 NSDUH surveys -- the rate in California rose from 21.2 to 22.6 percent and the level in Oklahoma went up from 33.7 to 36.9 percent.
Substance Dependence and Abuse
The percentage of persons with a substance use disorder, including either drug or alcohol dependence or abuse, ranged from a low of 7.5 percent in New Jersey to a high of 12.3 percent in the District of Columbia.
The highest rate of illicit drug dependence or abuse was in the District of Columbia (4.3 percent), while the lowest rate was in Iowa (2.1 percent).
Kentucky had the lowest rate of alcohol dependence or abuse (6.3 percent). Montana had the highest rate (10.8 percent).
Mental Health Problems
Hawaii had the lowest level of people age 18 or over reporting at least one major depressive episode in the past year (5.0 percent) while Nevada had the highest rate (9.4 percent).
RTI has conducted the nationwide survey for SAMSHA since 1988, and is contracted to conduct it annually through 2009. The annual survey of about 67,500 individuals focuses on significant trends in substance abuse and mental health problems.
The full report is available on the Web at http://www.oas.samhsa.gov/2k6State/toc.cfm.