Emergency Room Visits and Treatment Episodes Attributed to Non-Medical Prescription Drug Use
Between 2004 and 2011, the number of emergency room visits for the misuse or abuse of pharmaceuticals increased by 128 percent (Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) 2013). In 2011, there were 5.1 million drug-related emergency room visits, of which 1,428,145 were attributed to misuse or abuse of all pharmaceutical prescription drugs, more than those involving illicit drugs (1,252,500). Of prescription drug-related emergency room visits, 501,207 involved anti-anxiety and insomnia medications and 420,040 involved narcotic pain relievers, including 175,229 oxycodone related emergency room visits, up 220% since 2004 (DAWN 2013). Figure 5. Emergency room visits related to drug misuse or abuse, 2004-2011
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) 2013.
Within 11 major U.S. cities, from 2007 to 2009 the number of emergency room visits related to prescription drug abuse rose from 20 to 22 percent of all emergency room visits, while visits for illicit street drugs dropped from 36 percent to 28 percent (American Society of Anesthesiologists 2012). The highest rates for prescription drug-related emergency room visits were in Houston (33 percent) and Phoenix (27 percent) (American Society of Anesthesiologists 2012). In Los Angeles County, prescription drug overdoses are the leading cause of emergency room visits (County of Los Angeles Department of Public Health 2013). In New York City, the rate of narcotic related emergency room visits tripled between 2004 and 2010, from 55 to 143 visits per 100,000 persons (Office of the Mayor of New York City 2013). Figure 6. Numbers of treatment admissions ages 12 and older for primary drug types (excluding alcohol), 2000-2010
Source: Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) 2013
Admission rates for opioids other than heroin were higher in 2010 than in 2000 in all 47 states reporting in both years. From 2000 through 2010, treatment admission rates for these opioids were highest in the New England region. For each of those years, the New England rate was more than twice the rate for most other regions.
NEXT: Patterns of Non-Medical Prescription Drug Use
American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA), Research Reveals Decline in Illicit Drug Abuse; Prescription Drug Abuse on the Rise. ASA News release. October 15, 2012.
County of Los Angeles Department of Public Health. Prescription Drug Abuse on the Rise in LA County. County of Los Angeles Public Health, Public Health news. Press Release January 14, 2013.
Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. The DAWN Report: Highlights of the 2011 Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) Findings on Drug-Related Emergency Department Visits. Rockville, MD. February 22, 2013.
Office of the Mayor of New York City. Mayor Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor Gibbs and Chief Policy Advisor Feinblatt announce new emergency room guidelines to prevent opioid prescription painkiller abuse. City of New York Blue Room, Press Release PR-015-13, January 10, 2013.
Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS). 2000-2010 National Admissions to Substance Abuse Treatment Services (SMA12-4701). Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). March 2013.