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U.S. shows some improvements in behavioral health

By Bethany Bray January 31, 2014

substanceabuseA recent government survey indicates more Americans are getting the help they need in crucial areas – such as heroin addiction – and our nation’s behavioral health is improving in some aspects, including the abuse of prescription pain medications.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration recently released the results of its 2013 National Behavioral Health Barometer, a survey of Americans’ behavioral health problems, from suicidal thoughts and underage drinking to rates of serious mental illness and substance abuse.

Positive strides have been made in some areas in recent years, SAMHSA reports. For example:

  • The rate of prescription pain reliever abuse has fallen for both children ages 12-17 and adults ages 18-25 between 2007 and 2011 (from 9.2 percent to 8.7 percent and from 12 percent to 9.8 percent, respectively).
  • The number of people getting buprenorphine treatment for a heroin addiction has jumped 400 percent from 2006 to 2010.
  • The number of people getting outpatient behavioral health treatment through Medicare has increased by more than 30 percent from 2006 to 2010.

Data was compiled from numerous federal surveys. In addition to nationwide statistics and trends, the report’s information is broken down for each U.S. state as well as by gender, age group and race/ethnicity where possible.

“[The report] provides both a snapshot of the current status of behavioral health nationally and by state, and trend data on some of these key behavioral health issues over time,” SAMHSA said in a press release. “The findings will be enormously helpful to decision-makers at all levels who are seeking to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.”


To view or download copies of the report, visit


“The Barometer is a dynamic new tool providing important insight into the ‘real world’ implications of behavioral health issues in communities across our nation,” says SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde. “Unlike many behavioral health reports, its focus is not only on what is going wrong in terms of behavioral health, but what is improving and how communities might build on that progress.”



1 Comment

  1. Jeffrey Guterman

    Is #heroin use really increasing in the US? Analyzing rates instead of raw numbers suggests heroin use may be decreasing, see Meanwhile, as this CT article shows, data from a survey conducted by the Substance Abuse Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (#SAMSHA) shows the number of people receiving treatment for heroin #addiction in the US has increased in recent years.


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