Drug use is a major problem. Repeat drug use is also a problem if not a bigger problem. The problem with repeat admissions for drug treatment is that it reflects treatment failures and a large amount of cost and burden to our health system.
What can we learn from repeat drug treatment admissions? Is there a reason for so much repeat drug use or are people never really “cured?” It is probably a little of both.
It is important to understand that information comes from the people who are getting treatment. Are they being honest? 50 percent of people with standard medical conditions lie to their doctors. What percentage fib when it comes to drugs?
The age group that is always studied is the age group 18-years-old to 25-years-old because they represent 22 percent of all drug users.
One thing that we learn by studying repeat admissions is that when a drug user does relapse they use more drugs. For example 12 percent of first-time admissions use heroin, while 27 percent of repeat admissions use heroin. The same thing is true of multiple substances. First time admissions stand at 56 percent while repeat admissions jump to 67 percent.
More first admissions are likely to use alcohol with or without drugs than repeat admissions 35 percent to 26 percent, while first admissions are more likely to use marijuana than repeat admissions 28 percent to 22 percent.
What is this information telling us?
It says that once a person starts on hard drugs they will most often return even after a respite and when they do they will use more drugs than they did before.
It also says the best time to stop a user is when they are using marijuana and/or alcohol. This is not new information; this study just bears it out.
There is a difference in hard drug use geographically including relapse. Highest is the Northeast (New York?), Midwest (Chicago, St. Louis?), West and South. The span goes from 61 percent to 38 percent for repeat admissions.
Not surprisingly drug use continues to become more frequent at earlier ages.
Here is a piece of information that I found interesting: Repeat admissions had more private health insurance than first admissions. Does that mean that those with no health insurance don’t seek services because of the cost or, does it means that people who relapse don’t care as much because they know they can get treatment paid for if they want to?
What does this mean to you?
When you have young people living at home you are their best chance of surviving the war against drugs and you will have the best opportunity before they get hooked on something.
“First-Time Versus Repeat Admissions: New Data,” Article, September/October 2008, SAMHSA News