D rug and A lcohol S ervices I nformation S ystem

The DASIS Report
March 2001
July 26, 2002

Prescription and Over-the-Counter Drug Abuse Admissions
In Brief

P

rescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drug abuse accounted for a small fraction (3 percent) of the 1.6 million admissions reported to the Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) in 1999. Prescription drugs in TEDS are grouped as follows: prescription narcotics (e.g., Demerol), prescription stimulants (e.g., Ritalin), tranquilizers (e.g., diazepam), and sedatives (e.g., Seconal). OTC drugs include aspirin, cough syrup, and any other legallyobtained nonprescription medication. Nearly half (46 percent) of the 44,000 treatment admissions for primary prescription and OTC drug abuse in 1999 were for prescription narcotic drugs. Prescription stimulant drugs accounted for an additional one third (33 percent) of admissions, while tranquilizers accounted for 11 percent. Sedatives and OTC medications made up 7 percent and 2 percent of these admissions, respectively. TEDS is a compilation of data on the demographic characteristics and substance abuse problems of those admitted for substance abuse treatment. The information comes primarily from facilities that receive some public funding. TEDS records represent admissions rather than individuals, as a person may be admitted to treatment more than once.

In 1999, 87 percent of admissions for prescription and OTC drug abuse were among Whites Admissions for abuse of tranquilizers and sedatives were more likely to be female; admissions for abuse of prescription stimulants and OTC drugs were more likely to be male Age at admission for prescription stimulants was generally younger than for other prescription or OTC drugs

The DASIS Report is published periodically by the Office of Applied Studies, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). All material appearing in this report is in the public domain and may be reproduced or copied without permission from SAMHSA. Additional copies of this report may be downloaded from http://www.samhsa.gov/oas/dasis.htm. Citation of the source is appreciated. Other reports from the Office of Applied Studies are also available on-line: http://www.DrugAbuseStatistics.samhsa.gov/.

DASIS REPORT: PRESCRIPTION AND OVER-THE-COUNTER DRUG ABUSE ADMISSIONS

July 26, 2002

Figure 1. All Admissions and Prescription/OTC Drug Admissions, Percentage by Race/Ethnicity: 1999

4.8% 11.5% White Black 23.3% 60.4% Hispanic Other

4.5% 4.7%

4.2%

86.6% All Admissions Prescription/OTC Drug Admissions

Source: 1999 SAMHSA Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS).

Race/Ethnicity
The racial/ethnic composition of TEDS admissions for prescription and OTC drug abuse differed from that of the total admissions population (Figure 1). In 1999, Whites accounted for 87 percent of prescription and OTC drug admissions compared with 60 percent of all admissions. Blacks made up only 5 percent of admissions for prescription and OTC drugs, but nearly one quarter (23 percent) of all admissions. Hispanics accounted for 4 percent of prescription and OTC drug treatment admissions and 12 percent of all TEDS admissions.

equally likely to be male or female. Admissions for prescription stimulants were more likely to be male (56 percent); however, admissions for abuse of tranquilizers and sedatives were more likely to be female (58 percent and 59 percent, respectively). Treatment admissions for abuse of OTC drugs were primarily male (67 percent).

31 years compared with 36 to 38 years for the other types of prescription and OTC drugs.

Age at First Use
Among admissions for abuse of prescription and OTC drugs in 1999, the age at initiation of prescription and OTC drug abuse differed according to the type of drug abused. The median age at first use was 18 for OTC and prescription stimulant admissions (data not shown). This was younger than the median age at first use for prescription narcotic admissions (24 years), tranquilizer admissions (23 years), and sedative admissions (22 years).

Age at Admission
The distribution of age at admission for abuse of prescription narcotics and tranquilizers/ sedatives was somewhat similar (Figure 3). OTC admissions demonstrated an early peak at age 16 that prescription narcotics and tranquilizer/sedative admissions did not. Age at admission for prescription stimulants was generally younger than for other prescription or OTC drugs. The average age for prescription stimulant admissions in 1999 was

Admissions by Sex
The proportion of males and females in treatment for abuse of prescription and OTC drugs in 1999 varied according to the type of drug abused (Figure 2). Prescription narcotic admissions were

Source of Referral
The source of referral to treatment among prescription and OTC admissions varied according to the drug being abused (Figure 4). In 1999, over half (51 percent)

July 26, 2002

DASIS REPORT: PRESCRIPTION AND OVER-THE-COUNTER DRUG ABUSE ADMISSIONS

Figure 2. Prescription and OTC Drug Admissions, Percentage by Sex: 1999
80
67.3

Figure 3. Prescription and OTC Drug Admissions, Percentage by Age at Admission: 1999
5

60
Percent
49.7 50.3

55.9 44.1 42.4

57.6 41.4

58.6

4

Percent

3 2 1 0

40 20 0

32.7

Pr e N scr ar ip co tio tic n s Pr St esc im rip ul tio an n ts Tr an qu iliz er s Se da tiv es

O C ver ou th nt e er

10

20

30 40 Age (years)

50

60

Prescription Narcotics Tranquilizers/Sedatives

Prescription Stimulants Over the Counter

Male

Female

of prescription narcotic admissions resulted from a self- or individual referral compared with 30 to 37 percent of other prescription and OTC drug admissions. Referrals from the criminal justice system were most likely to occur among admissions for prescription stimulant abuse (44 percent) and least likely to occur among admissions for prescription narcotic abuse (15 percent).

One quarter to one third of to treatment occurred in relatively admissions for abuse of prescripsimilar proportions across the tion drugs other than prescription different prescription and OTC stimulants were the result of a drug types and ranged from 9 referral by substance abuse and percent of admissions for prehealth care providers, while only scription narcotic abuse to 16 11 percent of admissions for percent of admissions for preprescription stimulant abuse scription stimulant abuse. resulted from this referral The Drug and Alcohol Services Information System (DASIS) is an source. Comintegrated data system maintained by the Office of Applied Studies, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). munity referrals
One component of DASIS is the Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS). TEDS is a compilation of data on the demographic characteristics and substance abuse problems of those admitted for substance abuse treatment. The information comes primarily from facilities that receive some public funding. Information on treatment admissions is routinely collected by State administrative systems and then submitted to SAMHSA in a standard format. Approximately 1.6 million records are included in TEDS each year. TEDS records represent admissions rather than individuals, as a person may be admitted to treatment more than once.

Figure 4. Prescription and OTC Drug Admissions, Percentage by Source of Referral: 1999
100 80
Percent
8.7 25.8 14.9 15.9 10.8 43.6 11.1 33.1 19.2 36.6 12.2 27.8 24.0 35.9 10.7 25.2 31.7

Community Referral Substance Abuse/Health Care Provider Criminal Justice System Self/Individual

The DASIS Report is prepared by the Office of Applied Studies, SAMHSA; Synectics for Management Decisions, Inc., Arlington, Virginia; and RTI, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.
Information and data for this issue are based on data reported to TEDS through April 16, 2001. Access the latest TEDS reports at: http://www.samhsa.gov/oas/dasis.htm Access the latest TEDS public use files at: http://www.samhsa.gov/oas/SAMHDA.htm Other substance abuse reports are available at: http://www.DrugAbuseStatistics.samhsa.gov
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Office of Applied Studies www.samhsa.gov

60 40 20 0

50.6 29.6

32.4

Pr

es

Pr e N scr cr ar ip ip tio coti tion n cs St im Tr ula n an qu ts iliz er s Se O da ve tiv rt es he C ou nt er