The Uninsured Engage In Painkiller Abuse At Nearly Twice The Rate Of Insured Patients
According to the 2017 edition of the Behavioral Health Barometer by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA), the uninsured are nearly twice as likely to engage in painkiller abuse.
The report consists of data compiled from 2015 by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health and the National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services, and offers both federal and local information about substance use and mental health.
An estimated 4.3% of Americans age 12 or older and are insured report misusing painkillers in the past year, but that rate increases to 8% when looking at the uninsured.
SAMHSA’s report also noted that was a higher rate of men than women who abused painkillers in 2015, and men aged 18-44 had a higher rate of abuse than the country’s average – 4.7% or 12.5 million was the national average for 2015, but 5.3% was average for men.
Additionally, the report revealed that the uninsured are also more likely to use alcohol, heroin, and other illicit drugs – nearly 6% of adults who were uninsured engaged in illicit drug use in the past year, versus 2.6% of those were insured.
Authors estimated that around 850,000 people over age 12 have an illicit drug use disorder; however, just 11% received treatment at an addiction rehab facility, a hospital, or mental health center. Nearly 7% indicated a need for treatment but did not receive it. And an estimated 3 million teens aged 12-17 suffered from at least one major depressive episode, but just 1.2 million had access to professional treatment.
According to the authors, the reason why the uninsured are more likely to abuse painkillers is that they have less access to treatment for pain and other conditions and often receive pills from friends and relatives.
I would like to add, also, that the uninsured may be privy to other unfortunate circumstances, which may encourage them to engage in alcohol abuse and illicit drug use as a means to self-medicate both mentally and emotionally.