ER Data Reveals Opportunity to Intervene with Underage Alcohol and Other Drug Users

Nearly one-third (30.5%) of alcohol-related emergency department (ED) visits made by underage youth and young adults also involved illicit or pharmaceutical drugs in 2009, according to data from the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN). The most prevalent drug reported was marijuana (51.0%), followed by sedatives/hypnotics (17.5%), cocaine (14.3%), and narcotic pain relievers (11.4%). Slightly more than 6% of underage alcohol-related ED visits involved ecstasy—more than twice as many as in 2008. All other drugs made up less than 5%. The study also found that nearly two-thirds (64.4%) of these visits that involved other drugs did not receive any follow-up care, defined as admission to an inpatient unit in the hospital, transfer to another health care facility, or referral to a detoxification program or substance abuse treatment.