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Closing the Addiction Treatment Gap (CATG) Statement on Annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health Data Released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

BALTIMORE, Sept. 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following statement can be attributed to Victor Capoccia, director of the Closing the Addiction Treatment Gap (CATG) initiative:

"The national data released today confirms that untreated alcohol and drug addiction remains at pandemic levels, with 23 million Americans suffering from the disease, approximately the same number that suffers from type 2 diabetes. But you wouldn't know it from the way our country responds to the problem. Only one in 10 Americans affected by addiction is treated, as opposed to four out of five people with diabetes. Inability to pay the cost of treatment was the most common reason cited by those who wanted but did not receive treatment. Addiction is a disease; it's time we started treating it that way."

"The nation is focused on how best to reform our health care system. Access to effective addiction treatment will save billions of dollars over a decade's time compared with the costs and health complications that come with not treating people at all. Ignoring any disease - be it addiction, diabetes or hypertension - is bad medicine and should not be an option in today's health care system. Addiction treatment should be fully covered by all insurance plans."

According to the data released today (see: Section 7.3. "Need for and Receipt of Specialty Treatment,"

  • In 2008, 23.1 million persons aged 12 or older needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol use problem (9.2 percent of the persons aged 12 or older), consistent with numbers reported in previous years.
  • Of those needing treatment, 2.3 million (0.9 percent of persons aged 12 or older and 9.9 percent of those who needed treatment) received treatment at a specialty facility. Therefore, 20.8 million Americans (8.3 percent of the population aged 12 or older) who needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol addiction did not receive treatment at a specialty substance abuse facility in the past year.
  • Of those who wanted treatment, made an effort to get treatment, but did not get it, 37.4 percent said lack of health insurance or inability to pay for treatment was the number one barrier to getting help.

SAMHSA data:

Closing the Addiction Treatment Gap:

Closing the Addiction Treatment Gap (CATG) is a national program initiated by the Open Society Institute and involving nine other local and national organizations working to expand addiction treatment. This initiative is designed to create an awareness of--and increase resources to close--an alarming treatment gap: currently, four out of five Americans who need drug and alcohol addiction treatment are unable to get it. The initiative aims to mobilize public support for expanded treatment by increasing public funding, broadening insurance coverage, and achieving greater program efficiency.

The Open Society Institute, a private operating and grantmaking foundation, works to build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens. To achieve its mission, OSI seeks to shape public policies that assure greater fairness in political, legal, and economic systems and safeguard fundamental rights. OSI works in over 60 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East, as well as in the United States.

CONTACT: Ashley Vanarsdall, +1-202-207-3632,, for CATG

SOURCE Closing the Addiction Treatment Gap
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