70M Americans Have SUD, Mental Health Conditions; 72% Say They’re Recovering

Over 70% of adults who report having ever had substance use or mental health conditions consider themselves in recovery or recovering. Still, factors like education, income and sexuality may impact who is recovering.

This finding was among those compiled in a report released Wednesday by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Using responses to a federal survey, The report, which included responses from a federal survey, found that many Americans are in recovery.

“With a whole-health approach, recovery is real and possible for all those impacted by mental health and substance use conditions,” Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon, Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use of SAMHSA said in a press release.


Recovery, according to SAMHSA, “is characterized by continual growth and improvement in one’s health and wellness while managing setbacks, which are a natural part of life.”

One of the tools for recovery is treatment.

People who received any type of treatment, including inpatient, outpatient, prescription, or virtual care, for a mental health problem within the last year were more likely to be in recovery, the report found.


Treatment also seemed to help people with substance use problems. Those who received substance use treatment were more likely to be in recovery.

Treatment, however, may not always be easy to get.

SAMHSA released findings in January revealing that 94% of patients with SUD did not receive treatment in 2021.

People who got treatment in the last year were also less likely to need treatment but not receive it.

“These findings highlight the importance of treatment and recovery-oriented systems of care so that when individuals with mental health and/or substance use problems seek help, they are met with the knowledge and belief that anyone can recover, and that they can successfully manage their conditions,” the report’s authors wrote.

Some factors seemed to promote success for substance use recovery but reduced chances for mental health recovery.

Participation in at least one government assistance program, having lower levels of education or having a lower family income were among factors that increased the likelihood for adults to be in recovery for substance use. These same factors decreased the likelihood for people to be in mental health recovery, however.

Other factors that decreased the chances of recovery included past-year serious psychological distress, substance use disorder (SUD), co-occurring mental illness and SUD, alcohol use, marijuana use or cocaine use.

On the other side of the coin, mental health recovery was more common among adults who had health insurance or were heterosexual.

The report’s authors included recommendations for policy change to support recovery based on its findings.

SAMHSA’s recommendations include:

  • Expand access to affordable, high-quality health care, including health insurance coverage.
  • Create affordable housing options, including recovery housing, to support people in recovery.
  • Enact programs that promote job opportunities and vocational training for people in recovery.
  • Develop campaigns to combat stigma around mental health and substance use
  • Provide recovery opportunities to under-served and under-resourced populations, including people of color and LGBTQI+ populations.

“Overall, the findings reveal that recovery is real and that with a range of holistic, individualized supports, people with mental health and/or substance use conditions can and do overcome these challenges and live productive lives in our communities,” read a press release connected to the report.

Companies featured in this article: