Street drugs have always been a factor in a subset of ED visits. But of late, it's becoming increasingly common for prescription and over-the-counter drugs to prompt ED visits as well. According to a new study released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, ED visits due to abuse or misuse of drugs shot up a remarkable 21 percent from 2004 to 2005. Emergency departments saw 613,053 cocaine and heroin overdoses, compared with 598,542 visits for pharma drug misuse, putting the two problems on an essentially equal footing. The drugs most commonly playing a role in overdoses during this period narcotic painkillers like oxycodone, anti-anxiety drugs like Xanax and Valium and stimulant methylphenidate, a key ingredient in Ritalin.
To learn more about this trend:
- read this USA Today piece