September 20, 2023

New National Substance Abuse Report

The National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health sponsors an ongoing panel study from the University of Michigan Institute of Social Research that examines substance use behavior across history in consistent age segments, and among key groups.

This survey panel includes over 110,000 individuals, with data going back to 1975, surveying 28,500 individuals annually. These data, gathered on national samples over a large portion of the lifespan, are extremely rare and can provide needed insight into the epidemiology, etiology, and life course history of substance use and relevant behaviors, attitudes, and other factors.

At nearly 200 pages, there is a wide range of insights available in the latest report, but focusing on midlife adults, there are many interesting points regarding substance use.

Alcohol use for adults aged 35-50 has increased over the past decade. Binge drinking – noted as having five or more drinks in a row within the past two weeks – is at its highest level ever, with 29.2% of adults aged 35-50 recorded as binge drinking. Notably, there has been a rise in the last decade of binge drinking across midlife women.

Regarding marijuana, 27.9% of midlife adults reported using marijuana within the past 12 months, and 12.2% within the last 30 days. Daily marijuana use was reported by 6.5% of adults aged 35-50 in 2022.

The report also notes that midlife men had significantly higher prevalence levels of substance use than midlife women across cigarettes, alcohol, vaping nicotine, and drugs outside of marijuana. However, notable among young adults is a closing gap for gender differences across marijuana use.

Highlighting new and evolving data regarding substance use is important, as the workers’ comp industry has a growing focus on how social and behavioral determinants of health impact injury and recovery, and this includes substance use.

Healthesystems is publishing an ongoing series of articles that explore these concerns, including a look into problematic alcohol use, and tobacco use.

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