Treatment Statistics

…or, one more way they lie

The Drug Czars and other drug warriors often talk about the vast numbers of marijuana users in treatment, how the potency of pot is adding to the treatment numbers and how the high levels of treatment show that marijuana is not safe.

I’ve often debunked that notion at Drug WarRant, but it’s useful to take the government’s own numbers and show them to you..

You can run your own charts off the raw government data if you know how to do it. It’s available through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Data Archive in conjunction with SAMHSA.

I’ve done it below for you. Now, you can run the data a zillion different ways, based on age, geographic location, and a host of other factors. The Drug Czar would usually cherry-pick the numbers, picking whatever age ranges would support his arguments better, but even still, when you look at the data properly, the arguments about marijuana and treatment vanish into thin air.

In the chart below, we’re looking at a cross-reference of primary substance “problem” and principal referral source for all those admitted for treatment in 2008.

When you take a look at the various forms of referral for marijuana you immediately see:

57% of all marijuana referrals to treatment were from the criminal justice system

Only 15% of marijuana referrals to treatment were from individuals (that includes parents, friends, and other individuals), which is where you would expect a large figure if, in fact, marijuana addiction (particularly in youths) was a real problem.

(Note: Even when broken down by age, over 50% of all marijuana treatment referrals are from criminal justice for every age group from age 14 to 50.)

Additionally, lawyers often advise their clients to voluntarily enroll in treatment prior to their first appearance before the judge in the hopes of getting probation. These would show up under individual as well, when they are really more appropriately criminal justice referrals.

That clearly shows that treatment numbers are a more a function of referral than a reflection of actual problems with marijuana use.

Now, take a look at the other numbers (how marijuana compares to other drugs by referral) and you see:

  1. No other major drug (including legal drugs) has such a low percentage of self-referral. None. (The only category with a smaller percentage is the tiny “Other Stimulants.”
  2. No other drug except meth has such a high percentage of people in treatment who were referred by criminal justice.
  3. Heroin has almost the exact opposite ratio between the two referral sources. I think this is significant, and should be something analyzed further, to come up with real drug policy (that doesn’t depend on the false premises of prohibition). I believe that the heroin numbers support the notion that the Swiss model of legalization is likely to be successful.

Certainly, there are some people who have difficulty with marijuana dependence, and perhaps for a small handful, treatment is a useful option. Yet only three-tenths of one percent of those 14.4 million Americans aged 12 or older who used marijuana at least once in the month prior to being surveyed, were self-referred to treatment or referred by family/friends.

SDA 3.4: Tables

Treatment Episode Data Set — Admissions (TEDS-A), 2008

Data run: May 24, 2010 (Mon 08:55 PM EDT)






Variables
RoleName LabelRange MDDataset
RowSUB1PRIMARY SUBSTANCE PROBLEM CODE1-20-9 1
ColumnPSOURCEPRINCIPAL SOURCE OF REFERRAL1-7-91

Frequency Distribution
Cells contain:
-Row percent
-N of cases
PSOURCE
1

Individual (includes self-referral)

2

Alcohol/ Drug Abuse Care Provider

3

Other Health Care Provider

4

School (Educational)

5

Employer/ EAP

6

Other Community Referral

7

Court/ Criminal Justice Referral/ DUI/DWI

ROW
TOTAL
SUB11: None32.1
8,121
1.6
415
10.8
2,724
5.2
1,308
.8
195
13.1
3,309
36.4
9,200
100.0
25,272
2: Alcohol30.2
233,378
10.2
78,947
7.8
60,373
.7
5,066
.7
5,557
11.1
85,824
39.3
303,548
100.0
772,693
3: Cocaine/Crack32.6
68,899
14.6
30,850
5.8
12,159
.1
281
.5
1,077
13.7
29,005
32.6
68,921
100.0
211,192
4: Marijuana/Hashish15.0
47,633
6.1
19,311
4.0
12,571
3.4
10,742
.8
2,499
13.7
43,534
57.0
180,821
100.0
317,111
5: Heroin55.6
147,191
17.5
46,371
5.2
13,890
.0
126
.1
392
6.8
17,984
14.7
38,974
100.0
264,928
6: Non-Prescription Methadone53.9
2,979
15.0
826
8.5
471
.2
9
.3
18
7.4
408
14.7
812
100.0
5,523
7: Other Opiates and Synthetics50.0
52,079
14.2
14,761
8.4
8,711
.2
254
.6
591
8.5
8,879
18.1
18,900
100.0
104,175
8: PCP24.7
935
9.5
360
3.3
124
.2
8
.3
12
13.7
518
48.4
1,836
100.0
3,793
9: Hallucinogens28.8
485
11.0
185
7.2
122
.8
14
.1
2
12.4
209
39.6
666
100.0
1,683
10: Meth19.2
21,910
6.1
6,906
2.5
2,888
.2
242
.3
288
12.3
14,043
59.4
67,819
100.0
114,096
11: Other Amphetamines29.7
1,673
7.2
407
5.1
288
1.9
106
.5
30
11.8
665
43.8
2,470
100.0
5,639
12: Other Stimulants14.2
211
56.4
836
4.3
63
.8
12
.2
3
8.4
125
15.6
231
100.0
1,481
13: Benzodiazepines42.3
4,522
15.0
1,605
10.9
1,162
.6
59
.4
48
9.6
1,031
21.2
2,264
100.0
10,691
14: Other Tranquilizers31.3
131
13.4
56
10.3
43
2.4
10
.2
1
10.0
42
32.5
136
100.0
419
15: Barbituates50.8
538
11.4
121
8.3
88
.8
9
.8
8
9.3
99
18.6
197
100.0
1,060
16: Other Sedatives or Hypnotics32.8
1,072
16.2
530
9.7
317
1.5
50
.9
28
13.3
435
25.6
839
100.0
3,271
17: Inhalants33.8
404
9.4
112
10.6
126
5.5
66
.6
7
10.9
130
29.2
349
100.0
1,194
18: Over-the-counter Medications33.1
336
10.5
106
11.8
120
3.2
32
.1
1
10.7
109
30.6
310
100.0
1,014
20: Other43.2
2,955
9.3
639
8.7
596
2.9
196
.4
25
10.1
692
25.5
1,745
100.0
6,848
COL TOTAL32.2
595,452
11.0
203,344
6.3
116,836
1.0
18,590
.6
10,782
11.2
207,041
37.8
700,038
100.0
1,852,083




Color coding:<-2.0 <-1.0<0.0>0.0>1.0>2.0 Z
N in each cell:Smaller than expectedLarger than expected


2007 Figures

Below are the same data for 2007.

Note: Though not on this particular chart, running the same numbers, but with the percentages based on the primary drugs for each referral source, gets you a disturbing fact. When it comes to schools, 54% of their referrals to treatment are for marijuana, 27.8% are for alcohol, and the next highest is 2% for cocaine. Given the fact that alcohol is more dangerous and causes more actual problems, one of two things can be inferred:

  • Alcohol regulation works so much better than marijuana prohibition, that more students are getting pot than alcohol
  • Schools are ignoring alcohol problems and focusing on busting marijuana use, perhaps in part because of drug testing, where marijuana shows up longer than alcohol.


2007 Treatment Statistics via SAMHDA: Primary Substance cross-referenced by Principal Referral Source
SDA 3.3: Tables

Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS), 2007

Aug 15, 2009 (Sat 07:35 PM EDT)
Variables
Role Name Label Range MD Dataset
Row SUB1 PRIMARY SUBSTANCE PROBLEM CODE 1-20 -9 1
Column PSOURCE PRINCIPAL SOURCE OF REFERRAL 1-7 -9 1
Frequency Distribution
Cells contain:

-Row percent

-N of cases
PSOURCE
1

Individual (includes self-referral)
2

Alcohol/ Drug Abuse Care Provider
3

Other Health Care Provider
4

School (Educational)
5

Employer/ EAP
6

Other Community Referral
7

Court/ Criminal Justice Referral/ DUI/DWI
ROW

TOTAL
SUB1 1: None 42.2

16,309
1.1

410
15.5

5,998
4.3

1,665
.4

165
9.5

3,689
27.0

10,433

100.0


38,669
2: Alcohol 29.9

216,790
10.2

73,617
7.9

56,861
.7

5,193
.8

5,915
11.0

79,665
39.5

286,203

100.0


724,244
3: Cocaine/ Crack 34.0

78,887
14.8

34,278
6.4

14,886
.2

368
.6

1,486
13.3

30,814
30.7

71,300

100.0


232,019
4: Marijuana/ Hashish 14.8

42,105
6.1

17,401
4.0

11,447
3.5

10,082
.9

2,536
13.7

38,948
56.9

161,618

100.0


284,137
5: Heroin 58.1

141,872
14.8

36,102
5.6

13,628
.1

267
.2

454
7.1

17,362
14.2

34,675

100.0


244,360
6: Non-Prescription Methadone 54.6

2,755
13.7

691
8.7

440
.1

5
.4

21
8.3

417
14.2

714

100.0


5,043
7: Other Opiates and Synthetics 51.4

43,364
14.0

11,836
8.8

7,404
.2

193
.7

589
8.1

6,871
16.7

14,114

100.0


84,371
8: PCP 20.8

635
8.1

249
3.5

107
.1

4
.4

12
13.3

407
53.8

1,645

100.0


3,059
9: Hallucinogens 27.9

406
9.4

137
6.8

99
1.2

17
.3

4
13.1

190
41.3

600

100.0


1,453
10: Meth 20.4

27,594
5.7

7,733
2.7

3,713
.3

352
.3

401
13.7

18,554
56.9

76,979

100.0


135,326
11: Other Amphetamines 26.8

1,535
6.0

342
5.5

316
1.6

90
.4

25
10.9

621
48.8

2,789

100.0


5,718
12: Other Stimulants 24.4

201
9.6

79
16.4

135
2.5

21
.1

1
19.0

157
28.0

231

100.0


825
13: Benzodiazepines 41.9

3,939
15.2

1,435
11.8

1,109
.6

52
.6

56
9.6

908
20.3

1,913

100.0


9,412
14: Other Tranquilizers 33.7

150
9.0

40
10.6

47
.9

4
1.3

6
12.8

57
31.7

141

100.0


445
15: Barbituates 47.1

471
14.6

146
7.7

77
1.2

12
.4

4
6.4

64
22.7

227

100.0


1,001
16: Other Sedatives or Hypnotics 35.6

1,121
15.0

472
7.9

250
1.8

58
.9

28
11.9

375
26.9

846

100.0


3,150
17: Inhalants 29.1

279
8.7

83
9.4

90
7.8

75
.2

2
11.0

105
33.8

324

100.0


958
18: Over-the-counter medications 32.1

249
9.3

72
16.1

125
5.2

40
.4

3
10.8

84
26.2

203

100.0


776
20: Other 37.3

1,939
8.9

460
7.7

401
3.4

177
.7

38
13.3

691
28.6

1,487

100.0


5,193
COL TOTAL
32.6


580,601

10.4


185,583

6.6


117,133

1.0


18,675

.7


11,746

11.2


199,979

37.4


666,442

100.0


1,780,159

Color coding:
<-2.0 <-1.0 <0.0 >0.0 >1.0 >2.0
Z

N in each cell:
Smaller than expected Larger than expected

Text for ‘SUB1′

Identifies the client’s primary substance of abuse.

(1) NONE

(2) ALCOHOL

(3) COCAINE/CRACK

(4) MARIJUANA/HASHISH: Includes THC and other cannabis
sativa preparations

(5) HEROIN

(6) NON-PRESCRIPTION METHADONE: Methadone obtained and
used without a legal prescription

(7) OTHER OPIATES AND SYNTHETICS: Includes codeine,
Dilaudid, morphine, Demerol, opium, oxycodone, and any
other drug with morphine-like effects

(8) PCP: Phencyclidine

(9) HALLUCINOGENS: Includes other hallucinogens, LSD, DMT,
STP, mescaline, psilocybin, peyote, etc.

(10) METHAMPHETAMINE

(11) OTHER AMPHETAMINES: Includes Amphetamines, Benzedrine,
Dexedrine, Preludin, Ritalin, and any other amines and
related drugs

(12) OTHER STIMULANTS: Includes non-amphetamine stimulants

(13) BENZODIAZEPINES: Includes diazepam, flurazepam,
chlordiazepoxide, clorazepate, lorazepam, alprazolam,
oxazepam, temazepam, prazepam, triazolam, clonazepam,
halazepam, and other unspecified benzodiazepines

(14) OTHER TRANQUILIZERS: Includes non-benzodiazepine
tranquilizers

(15) BARBITURATES: Includes phenobarbital, Seconal, Nembutal,
etc.

(16) OTHER SEDATIVES OR HYPNOTICS: Includes non-barbiturate
sedatives/hypnotics, chloral hydrate, Placidyl, Doriden,
etc.

(17) INHALANTS: Includes ether, glue, chloroform, nitrous
oxide, gasoline, paint thinner, etc.

(18) OVER-THE-COUNTER MEDICATIONS: Includes aspirin, cough
syrup, Sominex, and any other legally obtained
non-prescription medication

(20) OTHER: All substances not otherwise specified

Text for ‘PSOURCE’

Describes the person or agency referring the client to the
alcohol or drug abuse treatment program:

– INDIVIDUAL: Includes the client, a family member, friend,
or any other individual not included in the other
categories. (Includes self-referral due to DWU/DUI).

– ALCOHOL/DRUG ABUSE CARE PROVIDER: Any program, clinic,
or other health care provider whose activities are
related to alcohol or other drug abuse prevention, or
treatment.

– OTHER HEALTH CARE PROVIDER: A physician, psychiatrist,
or other licensed health care professional; or general
hospital, psychiatric hospital, mental health program,
or nursing home.

– SCHOOL (EDUCATIONAL): A school principal, counselor, or
teacher; or a student assistance program (SAP), the school
system, or educational agency.

– EMPLOYER/EAP: A supervisor or employee counselor.

– OTHER COMMUNITY REFERRAL: Community and religious
organizations or any Federal, State, or local agency that
provides aid in the areas of poverty relief, unemployment,
shelter, or social welfare. Self-help groups such as
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Al-Anon, and Narcotics Anonymous
(NA) are also included in this category. Defense
attorneys are also included in this category.

– COURT/CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFERRAL / DUI/DWI: Any police
official, judge, prosecutor, probation officer, or other
person affiliated with a Federal, State, or county
judicial system. Includes referral by a court for
DWI/DUI, clients referred in lieu of or for deferred
prosecution, or during pretrial release, or before or
after official adjudication. Includes clients on
pre-parole, pre-release, work or home furlough, or TASC.
Client referrals in this category are further defined
in the Supplemental Data Set item Detailed criminal
justice referral (DETCRIM).

Allocation of cases
Valid cases 1,780,159
Cases with invalid codes on

row or column variable
37,418
Total cases 1,817,577
Datasets
1 /SDA/SAMHDA/24280-0001
2 /SDA/SAMHDA/24280-0001

CSM, UC Berkeley

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