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Surge in Number of Americans Treated for Prescription Painkiller Abuse
Date:6/23/2011

THURSDAY, June 23 (HealthDay News) -- Rehab admissions related to alcohol, opiates (including prescription painkillers) and marijuana increased in the United States between 1999 and 2009, according to a new national report.

However, fewer people sought treatment for problems with cocaine and methamphetamine or amphetamines, the researchers noted.

One of the most staggering increases over the 10-year study period: opiate admissions, mostly due to use of prescription opioids, which include painkillers such as oxycodone (Oxycontin) or Vicodin (hydrocodone).

The findings showed that 96 percent of the nearly 2 million admissions to treatment facilities that occurred in 2009 were related to alcohol (42 percent), opiates (21 percent), marijuana (18 percent), cocaine (9 percent) and methamphetamine/amphetamines (6 percent).

The report from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) identified trends in the reasons why people are admitted to substance abuse treatment facilities.

The SAMHSA report revealed that prescription drugs were to blame for 33 percent of opiate rehab admissions in 2009 -- up from just 8 percent a decade earlier.

Alcohol abuse also remains a serious problem. It was the number one reason for substance abuse treatment among all major ethnic and racial groups, except Puerto Ricans, according to the report. Although alcohol-related admissions dropped from 48 percent to 39 percent between 1999 and 2005, the number resurged to 42 percent of all admissions by 2009. Compounding the problem, 44 percent of those who abused alcohol admitted to using other drugs as well.

"This new report shows the challenge our nation's health system must address as the treatment needs of people with drug and alcohol problems continue to evolve," SAMHSA administrator, Pamela S. Hyde, said in an agency news release. "People often arrive in treatment programs with multiple probl
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