•10% of US adults have drug use disorder at some point in their lives
•People with drug use disorder are significantly more likely to have a broad range of psychiatric disorders, including borderline personality disorder
•75% report not receiving any form of treatment
A survey of American adults revealed that drug use disorder is common, co-occurs with a range of mental health disorders and often goes untreated. The study, funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health, found that about 4 percent of Americans met the criteria for drug use disorder in the past year and about 10 percent have had drug use disorder at some time in their lives.
“Based on these findings, more than 23 million adults in the United States have struggled with problematic drug use,” said George F. Koob, Ph.D., NIAAA director. “Given these numbers, and other recent findings about the prevalence and under-treatment of alcohol use disorder in the U.S., it is vitally important that we continue our efforts to understand the underlying causes of drug and alcohol addiction, their relationship to other psychiatric conditions and the most effective forms of treatment.”
A diagnosis of drug use disorder is based on a list of symptoms including craving, withdrawal, lack of control, and negative effects on personal and professional responsibilities. The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) rates the disorder by severity (mild, moderate, and severe) depending on the number of symptoms met. Individuals must meet at least two of 11 symptoms to be diagnosed with a drug use disorder.
This includes the problematic use of amphetamines, marijuana, club drugs (e.g., ecstasy, ketamine, methamphetamine), cocaine, hallucinogens, heroin, non-heroin opioids (e.g., oxycodone, morphine), sedatives/tranquilizers, and solvents/inhalants. Face-to-face interviews were conducted to diagnose drug use disorder, as well as alcohol use disorder, nicotine use disorder, and various personality disorders.
The study, found that drug use disorder was more common among men, white and Native American individuals, and those who are single or no longer married. Younger individuals and those with lower income and education levels were also at greater risk.
Similar to past research, the present study showed that people with drug use disorder were significantly more likely to have a broad range of psychiatric disorders, including mood, anxiety, post-traumatic stress and personality disorders. Individuals with drug use disorder in the past year were 1.3 times as likely to experience clinical depression, 1.6 times as likely to have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and 1.8 times as likely to have borderline personality disorder, when compared to people without drug use disorder. Drug use disorder was also linked to both alcohol and nicotine use disorder, with a three-fold increase in risk.
National Institutes of Health, November 18, 2015
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