Drug Abuse and Dependence in the United States

Prevalence of Drug Abuse and Dependence in the United States

Background; Current and comprehensive information on the epidemiology of DSM-IV 12-month and lifetime drug use disorders in the United States has not been available.

Objectives; To present detailed information on drug abuse and dependence prevalence, correlates, and comorbidity with other Axis I and II disorders.

Design, Setting, and Participants Face-to-face interviews using the Alcohol Use Disorder and Associated Disabilities Interview Schedule of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in a large representative sample of US adults (N = 43 093).

Most individuals with drug use disorders have never been treated

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Main Outcome Measures; Twelve-month and lifetime prevalence of drug abuse and dependence and the associated correlates, treatment rates, disability, and comorbidity with other Axis I and II disorders.

Results; Prevalence’s of 12-month and lifetime drug abuse (1.4% and 7.7%, respectively) exceeded rates of drug dependence (0.6% and 2.6%, respectively). Rates of abuse and dependence were generally greater among men, Native Americans, respondents aged 18 to 44 years, those of lower socioeconomic status, those residing in the West, and those who were never married or widowed, separated, or divorced (all P<.05). Associations of drug use disorders with other substance use disorders and antisocial personality disorder were diminished but remained strong when we controlled for psychiatric disorders. Dependence associations with most mood disorders and generalized anxiety disorder also remained significant. Lifetime treatment- or help-seeking behavior was uncommon (8.1%, abuse; 37.9%, dependence) and was not associated with sociodemographic characteristics but was associated with psychiatric comorbidity.

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Conclusions; Most individuals with drug use disorders have never been treated, and treatment disparities exist among those at high risk, despite substantial disability and comorbidity. Comorbidity of drug use disorders with other substance use disorders and antisocial personality disorder, as well as dependence with mood disorders and generalized anxiety disorder, appears to be due in part to unique factors underlying each pair of these disorders studied. The persistence of low treatment rates despite the availability of effective treatments indicates the need for vigorous educational efforts for the public and professionals.

Wilson M. Compton, MD, MPE; Yonette F. Thomas, PhD; Frederick S. Stinson, PhD; Bridget F. Grant, PhD, PhD, Prevalence, Correlates, Disability, and Comorbidity of DSM-IV Drug Abuse and Dependence in the United States; Results From the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2007;64:566-576.


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