It is no secret that the United States is facing a substance abuse crisis. While the COVID-19 pandemic generated widespread interest in public health measures in an unprecedented manner, the epidemic of substance use began well before that. Accessing effective treatment is necessary for individuals to break free from the cycle of addiction and avoid continued influence on substance-use trends. Family-Centered Services understands the recent trends in substance abuse prevalence and treatment and is equipped to support individuals as well as their families on the journey to recovery.

Addressing Data Collected by NDEWS

We can look at trends in substance use through the data collected by the National Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS). The NDEWS began in 2014 and was created by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Data is being collected in specified sites throughout the United States to help paint a picture of what substance use looks like at the local, state, and national levels. 

NDEWS Sentinel Sites

The sites currently involved in the NDEWS include:

  • Atlanta, GA
  • Chicago, IL
  • Denver, CO
  • Detroit, MI
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Maine, ME
  • Minneapolis, MN, 
  • New York City, NY, 
  • Philadelphia, PA 
  • Phoenix, AZ
  • San Diego, CA
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Seattle, WA
  • Southeastern Florida, FL
  • St. Louis, MO
  • Texas, TX
  • Washington, D.C., DC
  • West Virginia, WV

Recent Substance Use Trends in the United States

Looking at the snapshots from a few of these sites can identify some trends that are rising and falling in certain parts of the United States and highlight key similarities. The NDEWS completed its first phase in 2020. The data shows that fentanyl was involved in most overdoses from opioids in Chicago, IL, and that overdoses from opioids were increasing in frequency. In Atlanta, GA fentanyl was prevalent among those who died from drug use, whereas prescription opiates like oxycodone were responsible for fewer deaths than in previous years. Additionally, deaths from heroin use decreased. 

Further, Denver, CO saw opioids contributing to 60% of the total deaths associated with drug use; 25% could be attributed to the use of fentanyl while 41% were associated with the use of prescription opiates. Fentanyl is also prevalent among overdose deaths in Detroit, MI, and cocaine use contributes to many deaths as well. Seattle’s drug deaths are caused primarily by methamphetamines and followed by heroin and fentanyl. Los Angeles, CA is similarly impacted by methamphetamines, with heroin and prescription opiates also being a concern. Meanwhile, Philadelphia, PA saw a decrease in heroin and prescription opiate deaths while also seeing a rise in cocaine, methamphetamine, and fentanyl. 

New York’s data echoes this theme, as 80% of overdose deaths stemmed from opioid use and 60% were specifically from fentanyl. The study done in New York City indicated that only 43% of respondents knew about naloxone and fewer than half of that understood that naloxone could only be used in the event of opioid overdoses. 

Overall, the NDEWS indicates that substance use is a significant issue that is not limited to any particular region. It is present throughout the country and is impacting communities on both coasts and everywhere in between.

How Many People Are Accessing Treatment in the United States?

Data from the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) demonstrated that 7.8% of the United States population who were at least 12 years old had a need for substance abuse treatment in the past year. This equates to 21.6 million people. Even with this tremendous need, only 1.5% actually received services. This means only 4.2 million people were able to enter treatment for their addiction. 

Those who were able to receive services accessed them in a variety of places. Individuals accessed substance abuse treatment from the following sources:

  • Self-help groups (2.1 million people)
  • Outpatient rehabilitation facilities (1.7 million people)
  • Outpatient mental health facilities (1.3 million people)
  • An inpatient program at a rehabilitation facility (one million people)
  • Physician’s office (948,000 people)
  • An inpatient program at a hospital (642,000 people)
  • The emergency department (514,000 people)
  • While incarcerated in a prison or jail (254,000)

This data indicates the significant gap between those who need treatment and those who are able to access it. Until this gap is filled, people will continue to fall through the gaps and addiction will persist in our communities. Additionally, it demonstrates that a not insignificant portion of treatment services come from emergency departments and prisons. This means that people are being allowed to reach the point of crisis before being offered help. 

Early intervention is important for a successful recovery, and waiting until a crisis occurs or someone hits “rock bottom” is an approach that should be avoided. Family-Centered Services wants to close this gap and offer individuals and families a path to recovery before a crisis occurs. 

The Opioid Crisis and the Dangers of Fentanyl

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), deaths from overdoses increased as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Opioids play a major role in this. The synthetic drug fentanyl is an especially prevalent and dangerous piece of the puzzle.

Fentanyl’s danger comes from its strength. It is much stronger than drugs like heroin and morphine. This can make accidentally overdosing a very real possibility. Additionally, other drugs like counterfeit prescription medication and cocaine are often laced with fentanyl. The combination of fentanyl’s strength and its widespread presence increases the likelihood of overdoses.

Making naloxone more widely available and understood can help intervene in some of these overdoses. The majority of people who succumb to an overdose have a bystander nearby who could provide life-saving naloxone if they had access to it and knew how to use it. Fortunately, naloxone is available in all states in the United States, and the Samaritan Law legally protects individuals who are assisting in an overdose situation as well as those who are overdosing.

Addiction is a persistent problem in the United States. People in every region of the nation are impacted, and there are few places where the darkness of substance abuse has not been touched. Fortunately, there are experienced and passionate teams of licensed clinicians who are stepping up to shine some light on this darkness. Family-Centered Services is devoted to helping each family recover from the trap of addiction and build a healthy and fulfilling life. We offer individualized services such as treatment placement consultation, individual and family therapy, a family recovery program, case management, sober monitoring, and intervention education and preparation. Your family deserves to feel supported in the recovery process. Call us at (509) 991-5822 to get started today.

Originally posted 2023-05-29 14:00:00.