New government data released demonstrate the continued, urgent need for
more Americans to have access to drug and alcohol addiction treatment,
according to an analysis by the Closing the Addiction Treatment Gap
(CATG) initiative. If implemented properly, federal health care reform
legislation could help remove financial barriers to treatment for
millions of Americans.
According to /Defining the Addiction Treatment Gap/, a CATG review of
the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health released by the
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and
other national data sources, addiction continues to impact every segment
of American society.
“Drug use is on the rise in this country, and 23.5 million Americans are
addicted to alcohol and drugs. That’s approximately one in every 10
Americans over the age of 12 roughly equal to the entire population of
Texas. But only 11 percent of those with an addiction receive treatment.
It is staggering and unacceptable that so many Americans are living with
an untreated chronic disease and cannot access treatment,” said Dr. Kima
Joy Taylor, director of the CATG Initiative.
“Our society and our health care system have been slow to recognize and
respond to addiction as a chronic, but treatable, condition,” said Dr.
Taylor. “While change doesn’t happen overnight, if health care reform is
implemented properly, millions of Americans will finally have insurance
coverage for addiction treatment. This is an historic step toward a
comprehensive, integrated approach to health care that includes
treatment of addiction.”
/Defining the Addiction Treatment Gap/ is intended to provide
statistical context for efforts to close America’s addiction treatment
gap, including the design of an addiction treatment benefit as part of
health care reform implementation. According to CATG, a number of
important factors should be considered:
Twenty-three million Americans are currently addicted to alcohol and/or
other drugs. Only one in 10 of them (2.6 million) receives the treatment
they need. The result: a treatment gap of more than 20 million
Americans. — Cost and lack of insurance is the primary obstacle cited
by Americans who say they need but are unable to receive treatment.
Among those able to access treatment, nearly half (48.4 percent)
reported using their own money to pay for their care.