7% of Puerto Ricans need help with drug, alcohol abuse

Sunday, February 23rd, 2003.

More than seven percent of the Puerto Rican population need treatment to fight drug and alcohol dependence or abuse, according to a study revealed Friday by the Mental Health & Anti-Addiction Services Administration (ASSMCA by its Spanish acronym).

The study led by Hector Colon provided a questionnaire to a sample of 4,322 men and women between the ages of 15 and 64, according to the agency.

"This scientific study will help ASSMCA, as well as other private and community organizations, to be in better condition to focus our services," ASSMCA Administrator Dalila Aguilu said.

The study conducted between 2001 and 2002 revealed that 178,000 Puerto Ricans (7.1%) need treatment to fight substance dependence and another 186,000 (7.5%) for substance abuse, the agency said.

The study estimated that 123,133 people (4.9%) have problems with alcohol dependency and another 191,148 people (7.7%) with alcohol abuse.

The information also estimated that 74,289 people (3%) are affected by drug dependency while 30,467 (1.2%) abuse drugs.

The study revealed that 10.6% of the people classified as drug-dependent had received treatment within 12 months of answering the questionnaire.

Some 27.3% identified as drug-dependent received treatment in the year before answering the questionnaire, according to the study.