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Problem of Substance Abuse

Definitions of Terms:

Current illicit drug user:  Someone who has used illicit drugs at least once in the last month.
Binge drinking:
  Five or more drinks on one occasion.
Heavy drinking:
  Five or more drinks on five or more occasions in the past month.

Substance abuse places a major burden on all segments of American society, including the workplace.

Alcohol and Drug Abuse in America in 2016

Results from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA).

Summary

This national report summarizes key findings from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) for indicators of substance use and mental health among people aged 12 years old or older in the civilian, noninstitutionalized population of the United States. Results are provided for the overall category of individuals aged 12 or older as well as by age subgroups. The NSDUH questionnaire underwent a partial redesign in 2015 to improve the quality of the NSDUH data and to address the changing needs of policymakers and researchers. For measures that started a new baseline in 2015, estimates are discussed only for 2016.

Tobacco Use

In 2016, an estimated 51.3 million people aged 12 or older were current cigarette smokers, including 29.7 million who were daily cigarette smokers and 12.2 million who smoked approximately a pack or more of cigarettes per day. Although about 1 in 5 people aged 12 or older were current cigarette smokers, cigarette use generally declined between 2002 and 2016 across all age groups.

Alcohol Use

NSDUH collects information on past month alcohol use, binge alcohol use, and heavy alcohol use. For men, binge alcohol use is defined in NSDUH as drinking five or more drinks on the same occasion on at least 1 day in the past 30 days. For women, binge drinking is defined as drinking four or more drinks on the same occasion on at least 1 day in the past 30 days. Heavy alcohol use is defined as binge drinking on 5 or more days in the past 30 days.

In 2016, 136.7 million Americans aged 12 or older reported current use of alcohol, including 65.3 million who reported binge alcohol use in the past month and 16.3 million who reported heavy alcohol use in the past month. In 2016, about 1 in 5 underage individuals aged 12 to 20 were current alcohol users. About 7.3 million people aged 12 to 20 reported drinking alcohol in the past month, including 4.5 million who reported binge alcohol use and 1.1 million who reported heavy alcohol use. The percentage of underage drinkers in 2016 was lower than the percentages in 2002 through 2014 but was similar to the percentage in 2015. About 2 out of 5 young adults aged 18 to 25 in 2016 were binge alcohol users, and about 1 in 10 were heavy alcohol users.

Illicit Drug Use

In 2016, 28.6 million people aged 12 or older used an illicit drug in the past 30 days, which corresponds to about 1 in 10 Americans overall (10.6 percent) but ranges as high as 1 in 4 for young adults aged 18 to 25. Regardless of age, the illicit drug use estimate for 2016 continues to be driven primarily by marijuana use and the misuse of prescription pain relievers. Among people aged 12 or older, 24.0 million were current marijuana users and 3.3 million were current misusers of prescription pain relievers. Smaller numbers of people were current users of cocaine, hallucinogens, methamphetamine, inhalants, or heroin or were current misusers of prescription tranquilizers, stimulants, or sedatives.

The percentage of people aged 12 or older who were current marijuana users in 2016 was higher than the percentages from 2002 to 2015. In contrast, the percentages among people aged 12 or older have shown little change since 2007 for current use of cocaine, since 2008 for current use of crack cocaine, and since 2014 for current use of heroin. The increase in marijuana use reflects increases in marijuana use among adults aged 26 or older and, to a lesser extent, among young adults aged 18 to 25. Marijuana use among adolescents aged 12 to 17 was lower in 2016 than in most years from 2009 to 2014.

NSDUH also allows for analysis of opioid misuse, which is the use of heroin or the misuse of prescription opioid pain relievers. In 2016, an estimated 11.8 million people misused opioids in the past year, including 11.5 million pain reliever misusers and 948,000 heroin users. Additional information is gathered in NSDUH for the misuse of pain relievers in the past year. Among people aged 12 or older who misused pain relievers in the past year, about 6 out of 10 people indicated that the main reason they misused pain relievers the last time was to relieve physical pain (62.3 percent), and about half (53.0 percent) indicated that they obtained the last pain relievers they misused from a friend or relative.

MDE have subsequently shown less change. In contrast, the percentages of adults aged 26 to 49 and those aged 50 or older with a past year MDE have remained stable. Among the 3.1 million adolescents and 3.7 million young adults in 2016 who had a past year MDE, 1.2 million adolescents (40.9 percent) and 1.6 million young adults (44.1 percent) received treatment for depression. The percentage of adolescents in 2016 with an MDE who received treatment for their depression was similar to the percentages in most prior years. Among young adults, the percentage with an MDE who received treatment for depression was similar to or lower than the percentages in prior years.

Mental Illness among Adults

In 2016, an estimated 44.7 million adults aged 18 or older (18.3 percent) had any mental illness (AMI) in the past year. An estimated 10.4 million adults in the nation had a serious mental illness (SMI) in the past year, representing 4.2 percent of all U.S. adults.3 Although the 2016 percentages of adults with AMI or SMI among adults aged 18 or older were similar to the percentages since 2010, a higher percentage of young adults was experiencing AMI and SMI. The 2016 percentage of young adults with SMI was higher than the percentages in each year since 2008, and the 2016 percentage of young adults with AMI was higher than the percentages in 2008 to 2014.

Mental Health Service Use among Adults

In 2016, an estimated 35.0 million adults aged 18 or older (14.4 percent of adults) received mental health care during the past 12 months. Among the 44.7 million adults with AMI, 19.2 million (43.1 percent) received mental health services in the past year. About 6.7 million of the 10.4 million adults with past year SMI (64.8 percent) received mental health services in the past year. The percentages of adults with AMI or SMI who received mental health care in 2016 were similar to the corresponding percentages in most years from 2008 to 2015. See footnote for the reference for the DSM-IV criteria.

Substance Use Disorders

In 2016, approximately 20.1 million people aged 12 or older had a substance use disorder (SUD) related to their use of alcohol or illicit drugs in the past year, 1 including 15.1 million people who had an alcohol use disorder and 7.4 million people who had an illicit drug use disorder. Among those who had an illicit drug use disorder, the most common disorder was for marijuana (4.0 million people). An estimated 2.1 million people had an opioid use disorder, which includes 1.8 million people with a prescription pain reliever use disorder and 0.6 million people with a heroin use disorder.

Substance Use Treatment

In 2016, an estimated 21.0 million people aged 12 or older needed substance use treatment. This translates to about 1 in 13 people needing treatment. Among young adults aged 18 to 25, however, about 1 in 7 people needed treatment. For NSDUH, people are defined as needing substance use treatment if they had an SUD in the past year or if they received substance use treatment at a specialty facility in the past year. 2

In 2016, 1.4 percent of people aged 12 or older (3.8 million people) received any substance use treatment in the past year, and 0.8 percent (2.2 million) received substance use treatment at a specialty facility. Only about 1 in 10 people aged 12 or older who needed substance use treatment received treatment at a specialty facility in the past year (10.6 percent).

Major Depressive Episode

In 2016, 12.8 percent of adolescents aged 12 to 17 (3.1 million adolescents) and 10.9 percent of young adults aged 18 to 25 (3.7 million) had a major depressive episode (MDE) during the past year. The percentages of adolescents and young adults in 2016 who had a past year MDE were higher than the corresponding percentages prior to 2015. Percentages of adolescents and young adults with a past year

Co‑Occurring MDE and Substance Use among Adolescents

In 2016, the percentage of adolescents aged 12 to 17 who used illicit drugs in the past year was higher among those with a past year MDE than it was among those without a past year MDE (31.7 vs. 13.4 percent). An estimated 333,000 adolescents (1.4 percent of all adolescents) had an SUD and an MDE in the past year. Among adolescents who had a co-occurring MDE and an SUD in the past year, 71.9 percent received either substance use treatment at a specialty facility or mental health services in the past year.

Co‑Occurring Mental Illness and Substance Use Disorders among Adults

An estimated 8.2 million adults aged 18 or older (3.4 percent of all adults) had both AMI and SUDs in the past year, and 2.6 million adults (1.1 percent of all adults) had co-occurring SMI and SUDs in the past year. About half of the adults with co-occurring AMI and an SUD in the past year did not receive either mental health care or specialty substance use treatment, and about 1 in 3 adults with co-occurring SMI and an SUD did not receive either type of care.

Suicidal Thoughts and Behavior among Adults

In 2016, an estimated 9.8 million adults aged 18 or older reported they had thought seriously about trying to kill themselves, 2.8 million reported that they had made suicide plans, and 1.3 million made a nonfatal suicide attempt. The percentage of young adults aged 18 to 25 with serious thoughts of suicide was higher in 2016 than in 2008 to 2014. In contrast, similar percentages of adults aged 18 or older, those aged 26 to 49, and those aged 50 or older had serious thoughts of suicide in most years between 2008 and 2016.

1 People who met the criteria for dependence or abuse for alcohol or illicit drugs in the past 12 months based on criteria specified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition (DSM-IV), were defined as having an SUD. See the following reference: American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM-IV) (4th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

2 Specialty treatment refers to substance use treatment at a hospital (only as an inpatient), a drug or alcohol rehabilitation facility (as an inpatient or outpatient), or a mental health center.

3 Adults with AMI were defined as having any mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder in the past year that met DSM-IV criteria (excluding developmental disorders and SUDs). Adults with AMI were defined as having SMI if they had any mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder that substantially interfered with or limited one or more major life activities.

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East Tennessee State University Policy Statement on Drug Free Campus

It is the policy of this university that the unlawful manufacture, distribution, possession, use of alcohol and illicit drugs on the ETSU campus in the workplace (on or off campus), on property owned or controlled by ETSU, or as part of any activity of ETSU is strictly prohibited.  All employees and students are subject to applicable federal, state and local laws related to this matter. Additionally, any violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action.

For complete policy information, see ETSU's Policy Statement on Drug Free Campus, PPP-26

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Health Risks Associated With the Use of Illicit Drugs and the Abuse of Alcohol

There are many health risks associated with the use of illicit drugs and the abuse of alcohol including organic damage; impairment of brain activity, digestion, and blood circulation; impairment of physiological processes and mental functioning; and, physical and psychological dependence.  Such use during pregnancy may cause spontaneous abortion, various birth defects or fetal alcohol syndrome.  Additionally, the illicit use of drugs increases the risk of contracting hepatitis, AIDS and other infections.  If used excessively, the use of alcohol or drugs singularly or in certain combinations may cause death.

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Helpful websites: 

(ETSU is not responsible for off-campus site content)

  1. US Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

  2. Partnership for a Drug Free America


Available Drug and Alcohol Counseling, Treatment, Rehabilitation Programs, and Employee Assistance Programs

(ETSU is not responsible for off-campus site content)

Partners for Health
(TTY)
(855) 437-3486
(800) 456-4006
ETSU Employee Assistance Program (423) 439-5825
ETSU Department of Public Safety (423) 439-4480

Alcoholics Anonymous Tri Cities 24 Hour Hotline

(423) 928-0871
Johnson City

(865) 522-9667
Kingsport/Bristol

Comprehensive Community Services
(Alcohol & Drug  Counseling & Prevention Center)
(423) 928-6581
Woodridge Hospital (423) 431-7111
Woodridge Hospital Mental Health Crisis Hotline 1-(800) 366-1132
Frontier Health Crisis Services
24-Hour Helpline
(423) 467-3600
(877) 928-9062
Alcoholics Anonymous - East Tennessee Information (865) 974-9888

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