The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services collects data on drug treatment under its Drug and Alcohol Services Information System (DASIS). DASIS has three components: (1) the National Master Facility Inventory, a continuously updated census of all known substance abuse treatment facilities, serves as the sampling frame for the second and third components; (2) the Treatment Episodes Data Set (TEDS) tracks approximately 1.5 million annual admissions to treatment for abuse of alcohol and drugs in facilities that report to individual state administrative data systems; (3) the Uniform Facility Data Set (UFDS) annually collects data on the location and use of treatment facilities for alcoholism and drug abuse. Together these three datasets “provide national and state-level information on the numbers and characteristics of individuals admitted to drug treatment and describes the facilities that deliver care to those individuals” (Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration, 2000:15). Here the focus is on TEDS, a continuous data series, in which information on clients receiving substance abuse treatment is collected and analyzed.

The goal of TEDS is to monitor the characteristics of treatment episodes. An event-based system, it identifies the primary as well as secondary substances that lead to each admission and reports the proportion of admissions for each drug including those of greatest interest to the committee—cocaine, opiates, and methamphetamines. It also reports the demographic characteristics of those admitted to drug treatment. It does not, however, represent individuals; thus it cannot measure the total national demand for treatment for any substance of abuse. Measurement of the unmet need for treatment can be accomplished only through comprehensive national and state prevalence surveys.

Analysis of the TEDS data shows that, in 1998, almost half of admissions were for primary abuse of alcohol and 30 percent for primary abuse of cocaine and opiates. Proportions of admissions for cocaine and opiate abuse were equal. Co-occurring abuse of alcohol and hard drugs surfaced as a significant problem, characterizing 42 percent of all admissions (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2000).

Demographic characteristics of admissions are also of interest. In 1998, most of those admitted to drug treatment were male (70 percent), white (60 percent, although blacks were overrepresented in the admissions sample), and unemployed (65 percent). Those admitted to drug treatment also had less education than the U.S. population as a whole. Over one-third had not graduated from high school, and only 21 percent had attended school beyond the high school years (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2000).

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