Talk to the Veterans Crisis Line now
U.S. flag
An official website of the United States government

VA Health Systems Research

Go to the VA ORD website
Go to the QUERI website

HSR&D Citation Abstract

Search | Search by Center | Search by Source | Keywords in Title

Trends in substance use disorder diagnoses among Veterans, 2009-2019.

Hoggatt KJ, Chawla N, Washington DL, Yano EM. Trends in substance use disorder diagnoses among Veterans, 2009-2019. The American journal on addictions. 2023 Jul 1; 32(4):393-401.

Dimensions for VA is a web-based tool available to VA staff that enables detailed searches of published research and research projects.

If you have VA-Intranet access, click here for more information

VA staff not currently on the VA network can access Dimensions by registering for an account using their VA email address.
   Search Dimensions for VA for this citation
* Don't have VA-internal network access or a VA email address? Try searching the free-to-the-public version of Dimensions


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Substance use disorder (SUD) represents a substantial health burden to US Veterans. We aimed to quantify recent time trends in Veterans' substance-specific disorders using Veterans Health Administration (VA) data. METHODS: We identified Veteran VA patients for fiscal years (FY) 2010-2019 (October 1, 2009-September 9, 2019) and extracted patient demographics and diagnoses from electronic health records (~6 million annually). We defined alcohol, cannabis, cocaine, opioid, sedative, and stimulant use disorders with ICD-9 (FY10-FY15) or ICD-10 (FY16-FY19) codes and variables for polysubstance use disorder, drug use disorder (DUD), and SUD. RESULTS: Diagnoses for substance-specific disorders (excluding cocaine), polysubstance use disorder, DUD, and SUD increased 2%-13% annually for FY10-FY15. Alcohol, cannabis, and stimulant use disorders increased 4%-18% annually for FY16-FY19, while cocaine, opioid, and sedative use disorders changed by = 1%. Stimulant and cannabis use disorder diagnoses increased most rapidly, and older Veterans had the largest increases across substances. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS: Rapid increases in cannabis and stimulant use disorder present a treatment challenge and key subgroups (e.g., older adults) may require tailored screening and treatment options. Diagnoses for SUD are increasing among Veterans overall, but there is important heterogeneity by substance and subgroup. Efforts to ensure access to evidence-based treatment for SUD may require greater focus on cannabis and stimulants, particularly for older adults. SCIENTIFIC SIGNIFICANCE: These findings represent the first assessment of time trends in substance-specific disorders among Veterans, overall and by age and sex. Notable findings include large increases in diagnoses for cannabis and stimulant use disorder and among older adults.

Questions about the HSR website? Email the Web Team

Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.