Substance Abuse Treatment Trends in the US

2 min read · 7 sections

How Substance Abuse Treatment Varies by State: Substances Used, Dropouts, and More

Unfortunately, many individuals across the world struggle with substance misuse. It’s no small problem. In fact, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) estimated that 19.7 million American adults dealt with a substance use disorder in 2017. Millions of adolescents struggle as well.

Luckily, there are treatment alternatives throughout the nation. Those who are battling an addiction can visit a treatment center, a state substance abuse program, or seek help in other ways. There are options for those who need help. With this in mind, we decided to take a closer look at how admissions into state substance abuse programs vary across U.S. states.

We analyzed data from the 2017 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) survey on substance abuse and mental health. We looked at the rate of admissions, the substances used when admitted, the rate of underage admissions, reasons for discharges, and more. Two states did not have available data – Georgia and Oregon. Read on for all of our findings.

The Rate of Admissions into Substance Abuse Programs by State

First, we looked at the rate of admissions into programs in each state. This is measured based on the number of individuals (aged 12 and older) admitted into substance abuse programs per 100,000 people in the state. Maryland has the highest rate, at 2,923 admissions per 100,000 people in 2017, followed by Connecticut (2,222), and South Dakota (1,804). Those with the lowest rates are New Mexico (128), Texas (166), and Idaho (187).

The Most Common Substance Used When Admitted to Substance Abuse Programs

Next, we looked at the substances used when individuals are admitted into a treatment program. Specifically, we found the most common substance used at admission in each state. This is based on the percentage of admissions in each state that is associated with each substance. Our results show that heroin and methamphetamines make up a considerable percentage of drugs used at admission. Heroin is the most commonly used substance at admission in 17 states, while methamphetamines are in 13 states. In Massachusetts, over half of admissions (55%) are related to heroin. Other states see the most admissions related to alcohol, marijuana, or a combination of alcohol and another drug.

The Rate of Underage Admissions into Substance Abuse Programs

We also wanted to see how states compare in terms of underage admissions. This shows the percentage of admits that are individuals aged 12 to 20. Hawaii has the highest rate by far, at 29.6%, followed by South Carolina (16.9%) and Idaho (13.9%). Those with the lowest rates are the District of Columbia (1.7%), New Mexico (2.9%), and Connecticut (3.2%).


The Rate of Underage Admissions into Substance Abuse Programs

Finally, we dug into the data to find out which states generally have the most and least successful substance abuse programs. We measured this based on the percentage of admits that are discharged due to completion, and the percentage that are discharged due to dropping out. Some states have very high rates of completion, such as Colorado (76.4%), Florida (72.9%), Nebraska (70.5%). Ideally, all individuals in treatment will complete it, and then will hopefully be able to continue their life without substance abuse. Unfortunately, some states had high rates of dropouts. These include Louisiana (76.3%), Arizona (59.1%), and Indiana (46.1%). To put these numbers into perspective, about 3 in 4 individuals in substance abuse programs in Louisiana will dropout, while 1 in 2 in Arizona will. On the flip side, 3 in 4 individuals in treatment in Colorado will complete the program.


Our findings show marked differences among states, when it comes to substance abuse program admissions and discharges. Regardless, recovery is a very personal experience for those going through it. These numbers provide us with a bird’s eye view of the circumstances, but an individual should seek out personalized care if they fear they have a substance use disorder.

If you or someone you know may be struggling with drug addiction, learn more about how we can help.

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