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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Spike in Young Adult Overdose Hospitalizations


Just after a report was released showing that prescription drugs kill more people every year than auto accidents, a new report has shown a spike in overdoses amongst 18 - 24 year olds according to government researchers. Experimenting with drugs and alcohol is quite common among those in this age bracket; however, the numbers uncovered by the report are staggering. The researchers, from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, regarding that age bracket found that between 1999 and 2008, hospitalizations rose by:

  • 25 percent for alcohol overdoses
  • 56 percent for drug overdoses
  • 76 percent for overdoses caused by a combination of drugs and alcohol

The report showed that in 2008, one out of every three overdoses that required hospitalization in that age group involved heavy alcohol consumption. Their findings also showed that hospitalizations for drugs severely outweighed those for alcohol:

  • 29,000 alcohol overdoses among young adults reached in 2008
  • 29,000 combined drug and alcohol overdoses
  • 114,000 overdoses involving drugs alone

You may be wondering why there were so many more drug overdoses than anything else? The answer to that question is prescription drugs and how many of them are out there in just about every household in America.
Researchers saw a 122 percent jump in the rate of poisonings from prescription opioids and related narcotics among young adults. Prescription drugs can be extremely dangerous if used improperly or if mixed with alcohol, causing a potentially fatal combination. Many people have the opinion that because a drug is prescribed by a doctor that it is safe and somehow less addictive than prescription drug cousins - illegal drugs. “The combination of alcohol with narcotic pain medications is particularly dangerous, because they both suppress activity in brain areas that regulate breathing and other vital functions,” researcher Aaron M. White, PhD, said in a news release.

The study is published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

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