Patterns and correlates of drug-related ED visits: results from a national survey

Am J Emerg Med. 2011 Sep;29(7):704-10. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2010.01.044. Epub 2010 Jul 13.


Purpose: Drug treatment can be effective in community-based settings, but drug users tend to underuse these treatment options and instead seek services in emergency departments (EDs) and other acute care settings. The goals of this study were to describe prevalence and correlates of drug-related ED visits.

Basic procedures: This study used data from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, which is a nationally representative survey of 43,093 US residents.

Main findings: The overall prevalence of drug-related ED visits among lifetime drug users was 1.8%; for those with a lifetime drug use disorder, 3.7%. Persons with heroin dependence and inhalant dependence had the highest rates of ED visits, and marijuana dependence was associated with the lowest rates. Multivariate analyses revealed that being socially connected (ie, marital status) was a protective factor against ED visits, whereas psychopathology (ie, personality or mood disorders) was a risk factor.

Conclusions: Significant variability exists for risk of ED use for different types of drugs. These findings can help inform where links between EDs with local treatment programs can be formed to provide preventive care and injury-prevention interventions to reduce the risk of subsequent ED visits.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Surveys
  • Heroin Dependence / epidemiology
  • Heroin Dependence / therapy
  • Humans
  • Inhalant Abuse / epidemiology
  • Inhalant Abuse / therapy
  • Logistic Models
  • Marijuana Abuse / epidemiology
  • Marijuana Abuse / therapy
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Support
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / therapy
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult