Visits to US hospital emergency rooms due to the misuse/abuse of prescription and over-the-counter drugs increased 21 percent from 2004 to 2005, says a report released Tuesday by the US federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
The number of emergency room (ER) visits was 495 732 in 2004 and 598 542 in 2005. Many of those visits were by people who'd misused or abused multiple drugs, said the report, Drug Abuse Warning Network, 2005: National Estimates of Drug-Related Emergency Department Visits.
Anti-anxiety drugs (benzodiazepines, up 19 percent), prescription pain relievers (up 24 percent) and methadone (up 29) percent were among the most common causes of the ER visits.
A nation of pill poppers
"Americans are in danger of becoming a nation of pill poppers," John Walters, director of National Drug Control Policy, said in a prepared statement. "The data released today put in stark relief the message we've been trying to get out in recent years. Prescription drugs can be lifesaving medicines when used properly, but their misuse can lead to addiction, suffering, and even death."
From 2004 to 2005, the number of ER visits for illicit drug use or alcohol remained the same, the report said.
Of the 1.4 million ER visits in 2005, 31 percent involved illicit drugs only, 27 percent involved pharmaceuticals only, and 36 percent involved combinations of illicit drugs, alcohol and/or pharmaceuticals. – (HealthDayNews)
World high on prescriptions?
Over-the-counter and prescription drugs