Prescription Drug Abuse & Emergency Room Visits: What’s the Connection?

More than 15 million Americans abuse prescription drugs, according to the Foundation for a Drug-Free World. That’s a huge number of people who are susceptible to the health risks associated with prescription drug abuse.

In addition, one new study found that frequent visits to an emergency room (ER) may be a predictor of death from a prescription drug overdose. Published in the journal Annals of Epidemiology, results showed that people with four or more trips to the ER were 48 times more likely to die from a prescription drug overdose compared to those who only visited an ER once or not at all. Among those with three trips to the ER per year, risk of overdose death was 17 times greater.

In addition, the study found that those with the highest risk of prescription drug overdose were also those with substance abuse disorders or other psychiatric disorders. They tended to be Caucasian males between the ages of 35 to 54.

The study was conducted by a team of researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. Those researchers examined data from 5,400 people who visited ERs in the state of New York between 2006 and 2010.

Prescription drugs have been a huge cause of drug overdose in United States in recent years. In fact, 60 percent of all drug overdoses are caused by prescription drugs, and improper use of prescription drugs leads to millions of trips to emergency rooms every year.

The study results point to a potential opportunity for early intervention. Since these results serve as a predictor of prescription drug overdose, emergency departments may be able to prevent overdose from happening among high-risk patients.

Prescription drug abuse continues to grow among Americans – and the health effects are evident. If you or someone you love abuses prescription drugs, learn more about Talbott Recovery’s prescription drug abuse treatment program today.

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