US Emergency Room Visits Due to Prescription Drug Poisonings Reach Epidemic Levels
According to a study, prescription drug poisonings kill more people than traffic accidents in many states, leading a drug rehabilitation expert from Narconon to encourage more drug prevention and education.
The study released in March 2011 reports on the hundreds of thousands of people each year who experience such serious problems with substance abuse that they must take themselves to the emergency department (ED) of their closest hospitals. The study also reported on the decade-long rise in these statistics.
The new study was issued by researchers and the Center for Injury Research and Policy at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. The records were collected from emergency rooms in every corner of the US in 2007. According to this study, 2007 saw nearly 700,000 ED visits related to drug poisonings just in the hospitals included in this report, resulting in costs of nearly $1.4 billion. This means that every day, at least 1,900 people walk into an Emergency Department with either illicit drug or prescription drug poisoning.
Prescription drugs were involved in hundreds of thousands of these emergency visits. Antidepressants and tranquilizers were involved in nearly a quarter, and pain and fever control medications were associated with 23 percent of them.
This study also turned up a startling realization: The rate of visits for drug-related poisonings is three times as high in rural areas as it is in urban or suburban areas.
Showing up in growing numbers were visits related to misuse of methadone, oxycodone and hydrocodone, dispensed in ever-increasing numbers and moving briskly on illicit markets as well.
But Study Omits Millions of ED Visits from its Scope
“As tragic and alarming as this report is, this is only part of the story,” stated Wiggins, the Director of Narconon Drug Education. “This particular study only encompasses the emergency department reports of 27 states. A more accurate look at the problem can be obtained by reviewing the reports from the Drug Awareness Warning Network which includes more visits in its scope.” Narconon is an international non-profit organization dedicated to the elimination of substance abuse and addiction through effective drug rehabilitation and drug education.
The Center for Injury Research and Policy study encompassed 27 million ED visits. The Drug Awareness Warning Network (DAWN) includes 116 million ED visits from 2007. Of these, DAWN reports that 1.9 million were associated with drug misuse or abuse.
Some visits involved pharmaceutical drug poisoning alone and other visits involved a mixture of pharmaceuticals and alcohol or illicit drugs.
| 31 percent of the visits involved abuse of pharmaceutical drugs by themselves
10 percent mixed alcohol with the pharmaceutical drugs
8 percent mixed illicit drugs and pharmaceuticals
4 percent mixed all three categories
As in the Center for Injury Research and Policy report, the DAWN report also found that the most frequently involved opioids were methadone, oxycodone and hydrocodone. Anti-anxiety medications occurred in almost a third of these visits, with alprazolam (marketed as Xanax) being the most common benzodiazepine found present. More than 80,000 people who used this drug in 2007 needed to visit the emergency room.
“Of course, some of the blame for this problem can be assigned to practitioners who dispense their drugs too indiscriminately,” added Bobby Wiggns. “But there is another situation contributing to this problem that has nothing to do with the practitioners. And that is the fact that too few people are well-educated on the deadly problems that can be associated with drug abuse, misuse of prescription drugs, and mixing illicit drugs, alcohol and prescription drugs.”
Narconon Centers Around the World Offer Classes Aimed at Preventing Just these Kinds of Statistics
“Narconon centers around the world help people learn to live clean and sober lives after addiction, but that’s not enough,” Wiggins explained. “Completely wiping out the addiction problem will take place on many fronts. You must have no household with addictive medications lying around that could be abused, you must have every young person educated on the dangers of abusing prescription drugs and the adults in the household must be explicit and clear about a zero-tolerance policy that is checked up on and enforced. And that’s just for starters.”
Bobby also described the Narconon drug rehabilitation program and the eight-part drug education curriculum. “Both the Narconon rehabilitation steps and the educational curriculum are based on more than 40 years of helping recovering addicts get their lives back. In the Narconon drug education classes we offer, students are taught that drugs are fat-soluble and so tend to stick in the fatty tissues of the body.”
But there is a solution to these lodged drugs. The Narconon drug rehabilitation program has a sauna and exercise portion of the drug recovery program called the Narconon New Life Detoxification program. This phase flushes out the lodged drug residues. Wiggins added, “Many recovering addicts say that this step helps them overcome the cravings that can make recovery so difficult.”
The Narconon drug education curriculum covers every aspect of drugs, from the media attempts to covertly coerce young people into being attracted to drugs, to the effects drugs can have long after a person stops using them.
The Narconon drug education curriculum was itself the subject of a peer-reviewed study. In trials in Oklahoma and Hawai’i, groups of students were surveyed in detail about their attitudes on substance abuse and incidence of drug use. The students then received the entire eight-part curriculum and their attitudes after six months were compared to another group that had not yet received the education. In every category of drugs, use in the educated group dropped and attitudes about substance abuse had grown healthier.
“Since it has been proven that education can reduce substance abuse, we must provide effective drug education appropriate to grade level to our school children,” Wiggins summed up. “With education at the front end and effective rehab for those who have fallen into addiction, we can anticipate a future that is free from these hundreds of thousands of emergency room visits due to drug poisonings.”
http://www.sciencedirect.com/ ED visits for drug-related poisoning in the United States, 2007