Substance Abuse Related ER Visits: Facts and Statistics

Below, you'll find facts and statistics from They reflect the high volume of substance abuse related ER visits in the U.S. This is a serious problem that continues each day. Bringing awareness in the form of facts is a great way to help yourself, as well as someone you love that might be addicted to drugs or alcohol. Our substance abuse treatment centers in Charlotte NC are here to help you understand the dangers of substance abuse.

ER Visits Related to Substance Abuse | Substance Abuse Treatment Centers Charlotte NC

  • In 2009, there were nearly 4.6 million drug-related ED visits nationwide. These visits included reports of drug abuse, adverse reactions to drugs, or other drug-related consequences.
  • Almost 50 percent were attributed to adverse reactions to pharmaceuticals taken as prescribed, and 45 percent involved drug abuse.
  • DAWN estimates that of the 2.1 million drug abuse visits— 27.1 percent involved nonmedical use of pharmaceuticals (i.e., prescription or OTC medications, dietary supplements), 21.2 percent involved illicit drugs and 14.3 percent involved alcohol, in combination with other drugs
  • ED visits involving nonmedical use of pharmaceuticals (either alone or in combination with another drug) increased 98.4 percent between 2004 and 2009, from 627,291 visits to 1,244,679, respectively.
  • ED visits involving adverse reactions to pharmaceuticals increased 82.9 percent between 2005 and 2009, from 1,250,377 to 2,287,273 visits, respectively.
  • The majority of drug-related ED visits were made by patients 21 or older (80.9 percent, or 3,717,030 visits).
  • Of these, slightly less than half involved drug abuse.
  • Patients aged 20 or younger accounted for 19.1 percent (877,802 visits) of all drug-related visits in 2009; about half of these visits involved drug abuse.
  • In 2009, almost one million visits involved an illicit drug, either alone or in combination with other types of drugs.
  • DAWN estimates that— cocaine was involved in 422,896 ED visits, marijuana was involved in 376,467 ED visits, heroin was involved in 213,118 ED visits, stimulants, including amphetamines and methamphetamine, were involved in 93,562 ED visits and other illicit drugs—such as PCP, ecstasy, and GHB—were involved much less frequently than any of the drug types mentioned above.
  • The rates of ED visits involving cocaine, marijuana, and heroin were higher for males than for females.
  • Rates for cocaine were highest among individuals aged 35–44, rates for heroin were highest among individuals aged 21–24, stimulant use was highest among those 25–29, and marijuana use was highest for those aged 18–20.
  • Approximately 32 percent (658,263) of all drug abuse ED visits in 2009 involved the use of alcohol, either alone or in combination with another drug.
  • DAWN reports alcohol-related data when it is used alone among individuals under the age of 21 or in combination with other drugs among all groups, regardless of age.
  • Because DAWN does not account for ED visits involving alcohol use alone in adults, the actual number of ED visits involving alcohol among the general population is thought to be significantly higher than what is reported in DAWN.

To learn more, visit with our next blog post, as well. We will have more facts and statistics for you there.

Legacy Freedom | Substance Abuse Treatment Centers in Charlotte NC

If you, or someone you know, is suffering from a substance abuse problem, it's time to get help. While it’s easy to believe that you are alone in this struggle, that is the farthest thing from the truth. There are numerous people dealing with addiction in the world. Regardless of how bad drug or alcohol use has become, help is always available. Contact Legacy Freedom, substance abuse treatment centers in Charlotte NC. We are here to help you get back on track to a healthier, happier life.

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