The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) is an annual survey conducted from January through December of the civilian, noninstitutionalized population aged 12 or older and is sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The survey collects information from individuals residing in households, noninstitutionalized group quarters (e.g., shelters, rooming houses, dormitories), and civilians living on military bases. NSDUH is the primary source of statistical information on the use of illicit drugs, alcohol, and tobacco by the U.S. civilian, noninstitutionalized population aged 12 or older. The survey also includes several modules of questions that focus on mental health issues. Conducted by the federal government since 1971, the survey collects data by administering questionnaires to a representative sample of the population through face-to-face interviews at their place of residence. The data contained are for 6 age groups and at the same time for 50 U.S. states (including the District of Columbia), the 4 U.S. regions and the entire country, and are based on the data collected through the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).
In 2016-2017, NSDUH collected data from 135,974 respondents aged 12 or older and was designed to obtain representative samples from the 50 states and the District of Columbia. NSDUH is planned and managed by SAMHSA’s Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality (CBHSQ). Data collection and analysis are conducted under contract with RTI International, formerly known as Research Triangle Institute. The survey-weighted hierarchical Bayes (SWHB) estimation methodology used in the production of state estimates from the 1999 to 2016 surveys also was used in the production of the 2016-2017 state estimates. For all measures except major depressive episode (MDE, i.e., depression), serious mental illness (SMI), any mental illness (AMI), receipt of mental health services, and serious thoughts of suicide, the age groups for which estimates are provided are 12 to 17, 18 to 25, 26 or older, 18 or older, and 12 or older. The survey covers residents of households, noninstitutional group quarters (e.g., shelters, rooming houses, dormitories), and civilians living on military bases. Persons excluded from the survey include homeless people who do not use shelters, military personnel on active duty, and residents of institutional group quarters, such as jails or prisons and long-term hospitals. The 1999 survey marked the first year in which the national sample was interviewed using a computer-assisted interviewing (CAI) method. The survey used a combination of computer-assisted personal interviewing (CAPI) conducted by an interviewer and audio computer-assisted self-interviewing (ACASI). Use of ACASI is designed to provide the respondent with a highly private and confidential means of responding to questions and increases the level of honest reporting of illicit drug use and other sensitive behaviors. Starting in 2014, the allocation of the NSDUH sample is
25 percent for adolescents aged 12 to 17, 25 percent for adults aged 18 to 25, and 50 percent for adults aged 26 or older. The sample of adults aged 26 or older is further divided into three subgroups: aged 26 to 34 (15 percent), aged 35 to 49 (20 percent), and aged 50 or older (15 percent). Nationally in 2016-2017, 273,249 addresses were screened, and 135,974 individuals responded within the screened addresses. The screening response rate (SRR) for 2016-2017 combined averaged 76.5 percent, and the interview response rate (IRR) averaged 67.8 percent, for an overall response rate (ORR) of 51.8 percent.
The dataset contains the following indicators related to substance abuse/dependence and mental health:
– Illicit drug use (marijuana prevalence and incidence and heroine, cocaine, methamphetamine, pain relievers misuse prevalence)
– Alcohol use (including binge alcohol use)
– Tobacco products use (including cigarette use)
– Perceptions of great risk (related to marijuana, heroine, cocaine, alcohol and tobacco use)
– Drug use disorders (related to illicit drugs, pain relievers misuse, alcohol and any substance abuse/dependence)
– Needing but not receiving treatment at a specialty facility (related to disorders due to illicit drugs, alcohol and substance abuse/dependence)
– Serious mental illness (SMI)
– Any mental illness (AMI)
– Major depressive episode
– Had serious thoughts of suicide
– Received mental health services
Illicit drug use includes the misuse of prescription psychotherapeutics or the use of marijuana, cocaine (including crack), heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants, or methamphetamine. Misuse of prescription psychotherapeutics is defined as use in any way not directed by a doctor, including use without a prescription of one’s own; use in greater amounts, more often, or longer than told; or use in any other way not directed by a doctor.
Prescription psychotherapeutics does not include over-the-counter drugs. Binge alcohol use is defined as drinking five or more drinks (for males) or four or more drinks (for females) on the same occasion (i.e., at the same time or within a couple of hours of each other) on at least 1 day in the past 30 days.
Tobacco products include cigarettes, smokeless tobacco (i.e., snuff, dip, chewing tobacco, or “snus”), cigars, or pipe tobacco.
Substance Use Disorder is defined as meeting criteria for illicit drug or alcohol dependence or abuse. Dependence or abuse is based on definitions found in the 4th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV).
Respondents were classified as needing substance use treatment if they met the criteria for an illicit drug or alcohol use disorder as defined in the 4th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) or received treatment for illicit drug or alcohol use at a specialty facility (i.e., drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility [inpatient or outpatient], hospital [inpatient only], or mental health center). Needing But Not Receiving Substance Use Treatment refers to respondents who are classified as needing illicit drug or alcohol treatment, but who did not receive illicit drug or alcohol treatment at a specialty facility.
Serious mental illness (SMI) is defined as having a diagnosable mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder, other than a developmental or substance use disorder, assessed by the Mental Health Surveillance Study (MHSS) Structured Clinical Interview for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders—Fourth Edition—Research Version—Axis I Disorders (MHSS-SCID), which is based on the 4th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). SMI includes individuals with diagnoses resulting in serious functional impairment.
Any mental illness (AMI) is defined as having a diagnosable mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder, other than a developmental or substance use disorder, assessed by the Mental Health Surveillance Study (MHSS) Structured Clinical Interview for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders—Fourth Edition—Research Version—Axis I Disorders (MHSS-SCID), which is based on the 4th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV).
Major depressive episode (MDE) is defined as in the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), which specifies a period of at least 2 weeks when an individual experienced a depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities and had a majority of specified depression symptoms.
For suicidal thoughts respondents were asked, “At any time in the past 12 months, did you seriously think about trying to kill yourself?” If they answered “Yes,” they were categorized as having serious thoughts of suicide in the past year.
Mental Health Services are defined as having received inpatient treatment/counseling or outpatient treatment/counseling or having used prescription medication for problems with emotions, nerves, or mental health. Respondents were not to include treatment for drug or alcohol use.