Study: Alcohol-related ER visits have greatly increased

An NIH study found that alcohol-related visits increased 50 percent from 2006 to 2014, especially among women and middle-aged to older patients

By EMS1 Staff

WASHINGTON — A recent study found that alcohol-related trips to the emergency room have greatly increased in recent years.

The NIH study said that from 2006 to 2014, alcohol-related emergency room visits increased nearly 50 percent, especially among women and middle-aged or older patients.

"In just nine years, the number of people transported to the ED annually for medical emergencies caused or exacerbated by alcohol increased from about 3 million to 5 million,” NIAAA Director George F. Koob said. “These findings are indicative of the detrimental effects that acute and chronic alcohol misuse have on public health, and the significant burden they place on our healthcare system.”

Researchers looked at visits and classified them as either acute or chronic alcohol consumption, with the acute consumption visits including acute alcohol intoxication and accidental alcohol poisoning, and chronic alcohol misuse visits including alcohol withdrawal and cirrhosis of the liver.

The study said that while men still account for more of the visits than women, female visits increased more than male visits over the study period.

“Recent studies suggest that the drinking habits of females and males are becoming more similar in the United States,” Aaron White, Ph.D., senior scientific advisor to the NIAAA director, said. “The larger increase in the rate of ED visits among females compared to males provides further evidence of narrowing gender gaps in alcohol use and related harms. This trend is concerning given that females appear to be more susceptible to some of the detrimental health effects of alcohol.”

Researchers said the highest rates of alcohol-related visits occurred among 45- to 54-year-olds for males and females.

The study also found that acute alcohol misuse-related visits decreased among 12- to 17-year-olds, which is consistent with a recent decline in binge drinking among teens.

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