SAMHSA’s 2015 Behavioral Health Barometer: Pennsylvania Offers Look at Substance Use, Mental Health Treatment

Earlier this year The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) published the third edition of their Behavioral Health Barometer: Pennsylvaniapart of series of reports at both the national and the state level that provides a “snapshot of behavioral health.”  The Barometer pulls data on youth and adult behavioral health markers from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services, the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, the Monitoring the Future survey, and services used by Medicare enrollees. This free report is a great source of data for needs assessments and grant proposals, be sure to download the national and state (of your choice) report at the SAMHSA website.

Below are data from the report on aspects of youth and adolescent behavioral health and substance use. Overall, the state percentages are comparable to national percentages, with higher proportions in reported cigarette use and binge drinking.

For Pennsylvania in 2013/2013-14:

  • approximately 84,000 adolescents (12 to 17 years old), just under 9 percent of all adolescents, used illegal drugs during the month prior.
  • 6.6 percent of adolescents used cigarettes within the last month – this is higher than the national data point  of 5.2 percent.
  • 16.5 percent of adolescents binged on alcohol within the last month – again, higher than the national percentage of 14 percent.
  • 198,088 youth (under 18 years of age) received services from the public mental health system, with 63.5 percent reporting improvement post-treatment, lower than the national data point of 69.5 percent.

 

 

 

Report Citation:  Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Behavioral Health Barometer: Pennsylvania, 2015. HHS Publication No. SMA–16–Baro–2015–PA. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2015.

 

More Evidence that Social Connectivity is Linked to Better Health Outcomes

As a kind of addendum to my previous post, I wanted to note that another study has identified links between social interaction and health, not just with the elderly but at two distinct stages of life. Researchers associated with the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill used data from four national samples to determine if an association existed between elements of personal relationships and physical health markers. Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study concluded that level of social involvement and size of social network are associated with the risk of poor health.  Among senior citizens, social connection was associated with lower risk of disease development, particularly around obesity and hypertension. An even more interesting finding – the level of social engagement among adolescents predicted their risk of health complications later in life.

 

 

 

Citation: Yang Claire YangCourtney BoenKaren GerkenTing LiKristen Schorppand Kathleen Mullan Harris. Social relationships and physiological determinants of longevity across the human life span. PNAS 2016 ; published ahead of print January 4, 2016, doi:10.1073/pnas.1511085112

 

Chronic Loneliness Can Make You Sick

At this time of year there is heightened awareness of the needs of others. We donate dollars, coats, toys and gifts, bags of food, or whatever else is needed to help make the holiday season a little less difficult for those facing economic hardship.  But social needs are also important, and when they are neglected due to self-imposed or situational isolation, there is an emotional and physical toll.  A holiday advertisement from the German store chain Edeka has been in the news this week for its powerful imagery of a lonely widower who is only able to bring his children and grandchildren together at Christmas by his (fake) death. Well played, Grandpa.

Sniffle inducing commercials aside, there are scientific links between loneliness and poor health. Studies released this year indicate that loneliness can make you ill and can be detrimental to longevity. Research out of Brigham Young University suggested that social isolation is as much of a risk factor to well-being as obesity, regardless of whether a person prefers solitude or is around others but feels alone. Even for younger people in the sample, little or weak social connection was a mortality risk.

Advancing their research on how loneliness results in changes at the molecular level, a research team including experts from the University of Chicago, UCLA and the California National Primate Research Center at the University of California-Davis, found that perceived social isolation leads to stress signaling, which affects genetic expression and cell production and lessens the body’s resistance to infection and illness.  The cells of lonely individuals contained “conserved transcriptional response to adversity” or CTRA (genes linked to inflammation in previous research). In this study however, loneliness was identified as a predictor of future genetic changes and a related decrease in the effectiveness of the immune system.  The team plans to continue their work on the links between loneliness, disease, and mortality to better understand the health risks and outcomes related to social isolation.

 

 

Citations:

Holt-Lunstad, T. B. Smith, M. Baker, T. Harris, D. Stephenson. Loneliness and Social Isolation as Risk Factors for Mortality: A Meta-Analytic Review. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 2015; 10 (2): 227 DOI: 10.1177/1745691614568352

Steven W. Cole, John P. Capitanio, Katie Chun, Jesusa M. G. Arevalo, Jeffrey Ma, John T. Cacioppo. Myeloid differentiation architecture of leukocyte transcriptome dynamics in perceived social isolation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2015; 201514249 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1514249112

The Relationship between Age of First Drug Use and Future Treatment Needs

Early alcohol and drug prevention efforts and enhanced treatment options for youth may play a key role in reducing the likelihood of future substance abuse according to a new brief from SAMHSA. The report, Age of Substance Use Initiation among Treatment Admissions Aged 18-to-30, presents data that suggest the age of first drug use is associated with need for treatment later in life; specifically, persons reporting an earlier age of initiation were 1) more likely to be admitted to treatment and 2) abuse multiple substances. In 2011, nearly three-quarters of the 18-to-30 year olds admitted for substance abuse treatment began using when under the age of 17, 34 percent between the ages of 15-17, 30 percent between the ages of 12-14, and 10 percent at age 11 and under. Of those who began using substances at age 11 or younger, 78 percent reported abusing at least two substances at the time of intake.

Other interesting takeaways from the report:

  • 63 percent of treatment admissions of people 18 to 30 years old were male, and males were more likely than females to start using substances at earlier ages
  • Among those reporting first drug use at 11 or younger, marijuana and alcohol were the most commonly used substances
  • Among those reporting first drug use at age 25 or over, heroin and prescription pain medication were the most commonly used substances
  • Nearly 39 percent of the persons admitted to treatment whom first used a substance at age 11 or younger reported a co-occurring mental disorder – the highest rate of any of the age groups

As the age of  first use of drugs or alcohol increases, the number of substances abused at time of admission to addiction treatment declines. The authors also  note that adolescents can grow into habitual abuse of alcohol and drugs within three years of initiation. These data indicate the need for continuous but targeted preventative interventions with elementary-to-middle-school-age students. For example, the risk factors for young children are usually related to the family, whereas adolescents may experience ongoing pressure from peers who use illegal substances, so strategies to address these factors while building up protective factors will also vary.

Information on drug prevention programs and resource guides for parents and teachers are available at the SAMHSA website.

 

 

 

Report Citation:  Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (July 17, 2014).The TEDS Report: Age of Substance Use Initiation among Treatment Admissions Aged 18 to 30. Rockville, MD.