An estimated 3 million full-time workers in America without health insurance (16.3 percent of all full-time workers without health care insurance) needed substance use treatment in the past year according to a national survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Levels of need were particularly high among those in this category who were aged 18 to 25 (24.4 percent) and males (19.2 percent).
The survey also revealed that among these uninsured workers in need of substance use treatment only 12.6 percent received treatment at a specialty facility. More than 80 percent of uninsured full-time workers needing treatment in the past year did not perceive a need for treatment and while the remaining 6.6 percent of all workers in need of treatment did perceive the need for treatment they did not receive it.
“This tremendous unmet need for substance use disorder treatment among this workforce has a devastating public health and economic effect on our nation,” said SAMHSA Administrator, Pamela S. Hyde, J.D. “We cannot afford to ignore this problem — substance use disorder treatment has proven to be a cost-effective investment for promoting safe and productive workplaces as well as renewed hope for those affected by this disease.”
A major benefit/cost evaluation of overall substance treatment programs determined that every $1 invested in substance abuse treatment yielded $7 in benefits to society in the form of such things as reduced crime costs and increased employer earnings. Other studies have shown that employees receiving needed substance use treatment have dramatically reduced rates of absenteeism, tardiness, on-the-job injuries, mistakes, and disagreements with supervisors.
The report, Substance Use Treatment Need among Uninsured Workers is based on data collected during 2007 to 2008 from a nationally representative sample of 10, 210 adults aged 18 to 64 employed full time and without health insurance who participated in SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The full report is at http://oas.samhsa.gov/2k10/177/UninsuredWorkers.cfm. It may also be obtained by calling the SAMHSA Health Information Network at 1-877-SAMHSA-7 (1-877-726-4727). For related publications and information, visit http://www.samhsa.gov/ .
Media Contact: SAMHSA Press Office