Last month, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released the results of the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). The survey results provide information about how Americans report their own experience with mental health conditions, substance use, and treatment access. While the report contains selected estimates by race, ethnicity and age, it cannot be compared to previous reports due the change in methodology as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Every year since 1971, this survey has given us a window into our nation’s mental health and substance use challenges and 2021 was no different. As the findings make clear, millions of Americans young and old faced mental health and substance use challenges—sometimes both at once—during the second year of the pandemic,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra in a news release.
The survey found that nearly 1 in 3 adults had either a substance use disorder or any mental illness in the past year, and 46 percent of young adults 18-25 had either a substance use disorder or any mental illness.
Additionally, 16 percent of the U.S. population, more than 46 million individuals, met the DSM-5 criteria for having a substance use disorder (SUD) in the past year. Of those with SUDs, 94 percent reported that they did not receive any treatment for their condition in 2021.
Over half the U.S. population used tobacco, alcohol or an illicit drug in the past month. Alcohol was the most popular substance used by people in the U.S. – 47.5% of the population used alcohol, followed by 19% who used a tobacco product and 14.3% used an illicit drug in the last month. The majority of adults who reported ever having a SUD (72.2%) considered themselves in recovery.
Since 1971, NSDUH has served as the primary source of statistical information on substance use and mental health in this country, and the 2021 report is the most comprehensive to date.