Drug Abuse Keeps Emergency Rooms Hopping

by Thomas Bay - Date: 2006-12-07 - Word Count: 288 Share This!

According to the 2004 DAWN (Drug Abuse Warning Network) report, out of nearly two million drug-related emergency room visits in 2004, almost 1.3 million were associated with drug misuse or abuse (https://dawninfo.samhsa.gov/files/DAWN2k4ED.htm). This figure includes 495,732 visits associated with non-medical use of pharmaceuticals, and 940,953 drug-related visits that involved illicit drugs or alcohol.

Bill Current, a drug-free workplace guru and consultant for Compliance Information Systems, stated, "In particular, the report highlights the national spike in prescription-drug abuse. As a whole, prescription and over-the-counter related emergency room visits topped the list compared with other classifications of drugs."

The DAWN report listed the following breakdown figures for 2004:

495,732 involved prescription drugs; 383,350 involved cocaine; 215,665 involved marijuana; 162,137 involved heroin; and 102,843 involved stimulants, including methamphetamines.

The report also demonstrates the tendency toward mixing various drugs, including alcohol. For drug-related visits:

30 percent were for one or more illegal drugs. 25 percent were for pharmaceuticals; 15 percent were for illegal drugs plus alcohol; 10 percent were for pharmaceuticals plus alcohol.

"Drug-free workplace programs that ignore prescription drugs in favor of just going after the more obvious illicit substances run the risk of allowing many substance abusers to continue undetected," says Current. "Benzodiazepines and barbiturates, two of the most commonly abused prescription drugs, are often not included in a typical workplace drug test. Yet, the DAWN report suggests a need to expand the panel of drugs for which companies screen applicants and employees." Bill Current brings up a very valid point. Employers should consider much more than the norm when screening potential and existing employees.

The DAWN report includes data collected from 417 hospitals and nearly two million emergency-room visits. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) is the federal agency responsible for DAWN.

Related Tags: policy, free, abuse, workplace, prescription, alcohol, drugs, illegal, testing, drug, compliance, office, dot

For more information on drug policies and compliant technology for the drug-free workplace, visit http://www.complianceinfosystems.com

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