NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Treatment For Heroin Passes Cocaine

September 1, 1999

The number of Americans entering treatment centers for addiction to heroin and other opiates is greater than those seeking substance abuse treatment for cocaine, says a new report from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The report, "National Admissions to Substance Abuse Treatment Services: The Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) 1992-1997," found that treatment admissions in 1997 totaled 1.5 million. Among other findings in the study:

  • Between 1992 and 1997, the number of Americans seeking treatment for heroin use each year surged 29 percent from 180,000 to 232,000.
  • In that same five-year period, the number of people seeking treatment for cocaine use declined by 17 percent, from 267,000 in 1992 to 222,000 in 1997.
  • Admissions for heroin were 16 percent of the total, and surpassed cocaine for the first time since 1992.

Alcohol abuse remains the most common reason people seek help, although it is not as dominant as it once was, dropping from 59 percent of all admissions to less than half (48 percent).

And while other surveys indicate marijuana is by far the most popular illegal drug, it accounted for just 13 percent of admissions to treatment centers in 1997.

Source: Hans Greimel (Associated Press), "Treatment for Heroin Passes Cocaine," August 26, 1999.


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