MONDAY, Sept. 26, 2022 (HealthDay News) — There was a 23.5 percent national decrease in substance use disorder (SUD) treatment admissions during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a research letter published online Sept. 22 in JAMA Network Open.

Jonathan H. Cantor, Ph.D., from RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, California, and colleagues used data from the Treatment Episode Data Set (2017 to 2020) to quantify changes in national SUD treatment before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The researchers found that the largest state-level population decreases in treatment admissions were in New Mexico (60.8 percent), Hawaii (54.5 percent), the District of Columbia (44.9 percent), Nevada (41.5 percent), and West Virginia (33.3 percent), while treatment admissions increased in Rhode Island (7.9 percent), Louisiana (3.7 percent), and Mississippi (0.8 percent). Overall, the number of treatment admissions decreased from 65.9 per 10,000 in 2019 to 50.4 per 10,000 in 2020, a relative reduction of 23.5 percent. The decrease was larger for men than women. While all racial and ethnic groups experienced a decrease in treatment admissions, the largest decrease was seen for Native American individuals, followed by Black and Hispanic individuals.

“These decreases are especially noteworthy given evidence of increases in SUD and overdose death rates during the same period,” the authors write.

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