Drug-Related Visits To The Emergency Room

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With the growing use and abuse of drugs and alcohol, it is not surprising there are also growing statistics in emergency room visits by those using and abusing.

The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) reports more than 1.7 million (out of 113 million overall) ER visits are drug/alcohol-related or a combination thereof.

The leading offender for needing emergency treatment is cocaine, followed by marijuana and heroin. The most surprising statistic is that meth is last on the list, showing the focus, attention and public education on that drug is finally paying off.

DAWN estimates that more than 50 percent of drug-related ER visits involve illegal drug usage either singly or in combination with other drugs and/or alcohol.

The report also indicated that in the case of cocaine, marijuana and heroin, usage was mostly attributed to white males.

Alcohol is considered an illegal drug when consumed by persons under the age of 21. DAWN reports that alcohol abuse by minors continues to be a problem with nearly two-thirds of all under-age alcohol-related ER visits showing no involvement with other drugs. This constitutes about one-third of all drug-related ER visits. There was little differentiation between male or female usage.

Another area of growing concern is the non-medical use of pharmaceuticals, which includes taking a higher than recommended dose of over-the-counter medications/supplements or medical prescriptions, taking a drug prescribed for someone else, substance abuse in general or malicious poisoning of the patient by another individual.

This category accounted for 28 percent of ER visits. In conjunction with this, nearly two-thirds of drug-related suicide attempts involved multiple drugs, with 92 percent of those being pharmaceutical in nature and often combined with alcohol. Two-thirds of the reported suicide attempts were white females.

After considering and digesting this report, it becomes clear that we, as a society, cannot decrease activities in our effort to educate the public on the continuing problems centered around illegal drug/alcohol use and abuse.

This information was developed by and provided through: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Next month the Meth Messenger will interview a former meth addict and you will get a glimpse of life “Through an addict’s eyes.”

Presentations: Several presentations are being considered and will be scheduled as soon as the schools/organizations/ groups respond with a date.

Don’t use, abuse or be confused! Remember, Marty says, “Meth IS Death!”

For questions or more information on the Gila County Meth Coalition, contact chair, Claudia DalMolin at the Gila County Sheriff’s Office, (928) 425-4440; co-chair, Bianca DalMolin at (928) 701-1790; facilitator, Peggy Huggins at (928) 425-1887; or media liaison, Lu DuBois at (928) 467-2515.

Presented by the Gila County Meth Coalition

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