A harrowing new federal survey is shedding more light on just how bad the substance abuse crisis has grown in the United States.
According to new data from the Department of Health and Human Services, nearly 49 million Americans aged 12 or older reported having a substance use disorder in 2022. That number included some 29.5 million people who had an alcohol use disorder, 27.2 million people who had a drug use disorder, and 8 million people who had both an alcohol and drug use disorder.
The survey also found that 23% of those aged 18 or older reported having a mental illness in the past year, translating to more than 59 million Americans. About 1 in 5 children aged 12 to 17 reported experiencing a major depressive episode within the past year.
The latest data is based on responses to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which has been conducted each year since 1990 to better determine how things like drugs, alcohol and mental health are impacting American lives.
"Today's data reinforces the urgency of President Biden’s call to action: With more than 48 million Americans struggling with substance use disorder, Congress must step up and provide the funding President Biden is requesting to expand essential lifesaving services and crack down on illicit drug trafficking," said White House Drug Policy Director Dr. Rahul Gupta. "This is not a red state or a blue state issue: As the data shows, there are tens of millions of Americans in every state across the country affected by this public health crisis."
"The overdose epidemic is heartbreaking. But it’s also preventable. We have and continue to make progress. To continue to make progress will require proper funding and commitment," said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. "We will not stop using every tool available to get Americans the help they need. Right now, the President’s emergency supplemental budget request is before Congress with a request for additional, critical funds to take on the overdose crisis ... Now Congress must do its part."
However, the call to action comes as Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill are faced with a more imminent problem: a potential government shutdown. With the federal government set to run out of money at the end of this week, any future spending — or spending cuts — are the primary issue of debate.
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