October 01, 2012

Rural vs. Urban Substance Abuse Treatment Admissions


The views expressed herein have not been approved by the House of Delegates or the Board of Governors of the American Bar Association, and accordingly, should not be construed as representing the policy of the American Bar Association.

A new report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found that rural and urban substance abuse treatment admissions in 2009 differed by nearly every aspect examined.

For example, in 2009 rural substance abuse treatment admissions were more likely than urban admissions to be referrals from the criminal justice system (51.6 versus 28.4 percent) and less likely to be self-referrals or referrals from family members or friends (22.8 versus 38.7 percent).

In addition, rural admissions were more likely than urban admissions to report primary abuse of alcohol (49.5 versus 36.1 percent) or non-heroin opiates (10.6 versus 4.0 percent), while urban admissions were more likely than rural admissions to report primary abuse of heroin (21.8 versus 3.1 percent) or cocaine (11.9 versus 5.6 percent).

Rural admissions were significantly less likely than urban admissions to report daily use of their primary substance (23.5 versus 43.1 percent), and more likely to have first used that substance prior to turning 18 (32.1 versus 26.7 percent).

In terms of demographics, rural admissions were younger than urban admissions, less racially and ethnically diverse, and more likely to be employed (18 or older) full or part-time.

“There is a real need in this country for substance abuse prevention and treatment in both rural and urban areas. This report underscores that need,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde. “It’s a tool that policymakers and treatment providers can use to more effectively meet the substance abuse prevention and treatment needs of the communities they serve.”

The survey report, A Comparison of Rural and Urban Substance Abuse Treatment Admissions, was based on findings from SAMHSA’s Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) for 2009. The information in TEDS was reported by state-licensed substance abuse treatment facilities (primarily those that received public funding) from across the nation.

The full report is available at www.samhsa.gov/data/2k12/TEDS_043/TEDSShortReport043UrbanRuralAdmissions2012.htm or by calling the SAMHSA Health Information Network at 1-877-SAMHSA-7 (1-877-726-4727). For related publications and information, visit www.samhsa.gov.

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