Alcohol-Related Visits To Emergency Department Have Risen Dramatically

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Alcohol-Related Visits To Emergency Department Have Risen Dramatically

A new study finds that the number of emergency department trips per year related to alcohol use has increased steadily, with a spike of 61% in the number of visits in between 2006 to 2014.

The research published earlier in January revealed that the number of visits to emergency departments experienced a notable increase in the last nine years. The reasons for this trend, however, are not entirely understood.

The study also found that there was a 2% increase in alcohol use per capita and that emergency room trips for any reason also rose by 8%. But these two factors still do not explain the substantial increase in visits associated with alcohol use.

Also, there is no evidence of a nationwide increase in binge drinking, so the researchers were left somewhat confused about what factors might be driving the climbing numbers.

For the study, investigators examined national data, which included information on around 30 million emergency department visits. The data was pulled from 945 hospitals from 33 states and Washington, D.C.

The researchers were also perplexed as to why the number of women who visited the emergency room for reasons related to alcohol consumption increased.

Historically, men have had both higher rates of ER visits due to drinking, as well as incidents of drunk driving, liver cirrhosis, and binge drinking – but statistically, women are catching up in those areas, as well – another trend that researchers were not able to explain.

Study author Aaron White, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, via NPR:

“The lowest hanging fruit in terms of hypotheses is that there must be an increase in risky drinking in some people. Even though that is not showing up in increases in overall per capita consumption, it’s enough to drive the increase in alcohol-related emergency department visits.”


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