Category Archives: Substance Use

SAMHSA Reports 4.9 Million Drug Related Emergency Room Visits in 2010



A report issued by the Drug Abuse Warning Network reports 4.9 million drug related emergency room visits in 2010.  Of these visits, approximately half were attributed to drug misuse or abuse. Pain Relievers such as Oxycodone, Hydrocodone and other narcotics were the most frequently abused or misused.  Misuse of anti-anxiety medications and prescription sleep aids also resulted in a high number of emergency room admissions.  Alcohol use accounted for half a million emergency room admissions in 2010.

Crisis workers responding to emergency rooms should be reviewing lab reports, Blood Alcohol Levels, and Drug screens whenever possible.  Having illegal substances on board, or misuse of prescribed drugs, can contribute to altered mental status, suicidal threats and gestures, and exacerbation of other mental health problems.  At times, detoxification may be the more appropriate option for the individual in crisis, rather than hospitalization on a psychiatric unit.

Accurate information regarding an individual’s substance use is imperative in order to effectively triage a crisis.


Adolescents First Time Substance Use Likely Occurs in the Summer

A recently release report from SAMHSA indicates that adolescents are more likely to engage in first-time substance use during the summer months.  The National Survey on Drug Use and Health report indicates that first-time use of most substances peaks during the summer months, with more than 11,000 youths using alcohol for the first time each day.  Youth are also more likely to experiment with cigarette smoking during the summer months.  On an average day in June or July, over 3000 youth will experiment with marijuana use for the first time.

Crisis workers should be aware of these statistics, as they may be seeing adolescents in crisis as the result of drug or alcohol experimentation.  It is important for crisis workers to question youth about their substance use during evaluations and to be sensitive to the heightened risk of substance use in the summer months.