Hospitalizations for Alcohol and Drug Overdoses in Young Adults Ages 18–24 in the United States, 1999–2008: Results From the Nationwide Inpatient Sample

Division of Epidemiology and Prevention Research, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892-9304, USA.
Journal of studies on alcohol and drugs (Impact Factor: 2.76). 09/2011; 72(5):774-86. DOI: 10.15288/jsad.2011.72.774
Source: PubMed


Recent reports indicate an increase in rates of hospitalizations for drug overdoses in the United States. The role of alcohol in hospitalizations for drug overdoses remains unclear. Excessive consumption of alcohol and drugs is prevalent in young adults ages 18-24. The present study explores rates and costs of inpatient hospital stays for alcohol overdoses, drug overdoses, and their co-occurrence in young adults ages 18-24 and changes in these rates between 1999 and 2008.
Data from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample were used to estimate numbers, rates, and costs of inpatient hospital stays stemming from alcohol overdoses (and their subcategories, alcohol poisonings and excessive consumption of alcohol), drug overdoses (and their subcategories, drug poisonings and nondependent abuse of drugs), and their co-occurrence in 18- to 24-year-olds.
Hospitalization rates for alcohol overdoses alone increased 25% from 1999 to 2008, reaching 29,412 cases in 2008 at a cost of $266 million. Hospitalization rates for drug overdoses alone increased 55%, totaling 113,907 cases in 2008 at a cost of $737 million. Hospitalization rates for combined alcohol and drug overdoses increased 76%, with 29,202 cases in 2008 at a cost of $198 million.
Rates of hospitalizations for alcohol overdoses, drug overdoses, and their combination all increased from 1999 to 2008 among 18- to 24-year-olds. The cost of such hospitalizations now exceeds $1.2 billion annually. The steepest increase occurred among cases of combined alcohol and drug overdoses. Stronger efforts are needed to educate medical practitioners and the public about the risk of overdoses, particularly when alcohol is combined with other drugs.

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