According to the most recent data (2011) from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), the number and percentage of persons aged 12 or older who were current nonmedical users of pain relievers in 2011 were lower than those in 2010 and 2009. However, the number and percentage of persons aged 12 and older who were current heroin users in 2011 were similar to those in 2006 through 2010 but higher than those reported in 2005 and 2003.
“It is encouraging to see a decline in the incidence of prescription drug misuse among our nation’s young adults. However, these results also show us that nearly 2 million Americans used pain relievers non-medically for the first time last year and that heroin use has nearly doubled since 2007,” states American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) Acting President, Stuart Gitlow, MD. “Opioid addiction is an ongoing, serious problem in this country. Increasing access to all forms of treatment for opioid addiction, including medication-assisted therapies, must remain a priority for our nation’s policy makers at both the federal and state legislative levels.”
For many opioid addicted patients, the most effective treatment includes the use of medication-assisted therapy (MAT). The medications methadone, buprenorphine, buprenorphine/naloxone and extended release naltrexone are FDA-approved for the treatment of opioid dependence and are generally covered by public and private health plans. Unfortunately, several state and private health plans have implemented policy changes that have limited access to these important addiction treatment pharmacotherapies. “These medications help people get sober, back to work and back to life,” says Dr. Gitlow. “ASAM continues to advocate for increased access to evidence-based addiction treatment, like MAT, and encourages state and federal policy makers to support our efforts.”
ASAM Press Release on 2011 NSDUH Results