Illicit drug abuse has become a serious problem in the United States. Illicit drugs including cocaine, marijuana, amphetamines and so on are known to cause serious health effects, both physical and psychological. Many of the adverse effects due to illicit drug abuse makes the abusers to visit the emergency departments (ED) of hospitals.
The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) is a health surveillance system that is managed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reported the data on the drug-related hospital emergency room visits from the DAWN data.
As per this, around 4.6 million drug-related emergency department visits were reported in 2009. The reports of adverse reactions to drugs, drug abuse, or other drug-related consequences were included in these visits. However, there were about 2.1 million drug abuse visits and 21.2% of them involved illicit drugs and 14.3% involved alcohol in combination with other drugs (include central nervous system agents, cocaine, marijuana, psycho-therapeutic agents or heroin).
In 2009, almost 1 million visits were reported which involved illicit drugs, either alone or in combination with other types of drugs. Most of the ED visits included males compared to females. According to the data of DAWN, 93,562 visits involved stimulants including methamphetamine and amphetamines, 213,118 visits involved heroin, 376,467 visits involved marijuana and 422,896 visits involved cocaine. Rates of the ED visits for cocaine were high among people aged 35-44. Maximum number of individuals who reported the visits for heroin included people aged 21-24. Stimulant use was the highest among people aged 25-29 and marijuana use was found to be the highest for those aged 18-20.
As per the DAWN estimates, 658,263 visits which involved the use of alcohol (use of alcohol alone or in combination with another drug) were reported in 2009. Around 519,650 ED visits were related to the use of alcohol in combination with other drugs. Alcohol was combined with illegal drugs like cocaine (152,631 visits), marijuana (125,438 visits), and heroin (125,438 visits). Necessary measures should be undertaken to reduce the number of illegal drug users and the number of ED visits.