The great thing in this world is not so much where you stand, but in what direction you are moving.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

Spring marks a time for revival and new beginnings—the ground is slowly defrosting and the bulbs in our gardens are starting to sprout. April is also Alcohol Awareness Month, aligning well with the season’s sense of renewal and recovery.

In January, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released the 2021 National Survey of Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), which is conducted annually to provide nationally representative data on tobacco, alcohol, and drug use, as well as data on substance use disorders, mental illnesses, and mental health services. The following are key takeaways from the report.

Key Highlights of the NSDUH

  • The percentage of past-month binge drinkers was second highest for adults 26 and above (22.4% or 49.3 million people).
  • Approximately 17.9 million adults aged 18 or older had co-occurring mental illness and illicit drug or alcohol use disorders. Of these people, 52.5% (or 9 million) received either substance use treatment at a specialty facility or mental health services in the past year.
  • Among adults aged 18 or older, 4.8% (or 12.3 million people) had serious thoughts of suicide, 1.4% (or 3.5 million people) made a suicide plan, and 0.7% (or 1.7 million people) attempted suicide in the year 2021.

Alcohol use is an issue that is relevant to many adults in the United States, especially those within the service member and Veteran populations. In 2021, SAMHSA’s Service Members, Veterans, and their Families Technical Assistance (SMVF TA) Center hosted a virtual training focused on Strategies for the Prevention and Treatment of Substance Use Disorders. National experts highlighted the prevalence of substance use within the SMVF population and the challenging issues for states, local communities, and loved ones.

Key Highlights of the Webinar

  • According to the 2019 NSDUH, 6.2 percent (1.3 million) Veterans had a substance use disorder
  • Among Veterans with a substance use disorder:
    • 1 in 4 struggled with illicit drugs
    • 4 in 5 struggled with alcohol use
    • 1 in 13 struggled with illicit drugs and alcohol

During Alcohol Awareness Month, we encourage you to reflect on alcohol use and the treatment services available in your state and community. And most importantly, we encourage you to reflect at an interpersonal level, checking in with yourself and your loved ones about their alcohol use and habits. We must move along this path of growth and improvement together.

If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol use or misuse, treatment facilities can be located using SAMHSA’s FindTreatment tool or by using the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA’s) Substance Use Disorder location guide for those in the Veteran population. Additional resources can be found in the “Resource Center” at the bottom of the April Topics in the News.

For more information about the SMVF TA Center and the resources offered, please visit To request TA or ask a question, please email

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