Hospital Admissions Related To Opioid Misuse Increase By Nearly Two-Thirds In One Decade
A report released this week by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) found that hospital admissions involving opioids such as hydrocodone and heroin increased by 64% from 2005-2014, and emergency room visits for the misuse of these drugs roughly doubled.
Data revealed by the report reflects the incredible increase in opioid use, misuse, and addiction, and how prescription painkillers and heroin have led to an epidemic of epic proportions.
According to the report, patients who suffered from opioid-related problems, including overdoses were more likely to be hospitalized than treated and discharged from an emergency room.
Gender Differences And What It Means For Women
Men’s rates of hospital admissions increased from 146 per 100,000 in 2015 to 225 per 100,000 in 2014. In 2005, women’s rate of admissions related to opioid use was 128 per 100,000, a markedly lower rate than men. But by 2014, however, they were nearly equal at 225 per 100,000.
For women, this fact is very concerning. Hospital admissions rates related to opioids for females increased by 75% between 2005-2014, whereas men’s rates increased by 55%.
Moreover, while the national hospital admissions rate was barely higher for men in 2014, women had higher rates than men in most states individually. Overall, the decade saw a 55% increase in admissions for men and 75% for women overall.
These increasingly figures accurately reflect opioid prescribing trends and the differences between men and women.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, women are more likely to report suffering from chronic pain and be prescribed prescription painkillers. They are also more likely to receive higher doses and use them for a longer period than men.
Women are also thought to become dependent on painkillers faster than men. Between 1999-2010, an estimated 48,000 women died of overdoses related to prescription opioids. Also, overdose deaths among women increased more than four-fold during that decade, compared to men at 237%.
Emergency Room Visits
The rate of emergency room visits was also higher for men than women, and this trend continued throughout the decade.
Between 2005-2014, emergency room visits for opioid use by men rose from 100 out of every 100,000 to 203 per 100,000 – an increase of 103%. For women, that number increased from 79 out of every 100,000 to 153 per 100,000, reflecting a 95% increase. Together, these numbers reveal that ER visits roughly doubled for both women and men.
Admissions and ER Visits By Age Group
The 25-44 age group was mostly likely to be hospitalized by 2014, with an admission rate of 321 per 100,000 – rising 55% from 2005.
The second most likely age group was 45-64, with a hospital admissions rate of 317 per 100,000, an increase of 64% from 2005.
However, adults age 65 and older saw the greatest increase in hospital admissions, rising from 134 per 100,000 in 2005 to 248 in every 100,000 in 2014 – an increase of 46%.
Emergency Room Visits
The 25-44 age group also had the highest rate of emergency visits at 161 per 100,000 in 2005 and saw an increase to 336 per 100,000 in 2014, a figure that more than doubled.
Again, for emergency room visits the 45-64 age group was second, increasing from 90 visits per 100,000 to 188 visits in every 100,000 in 2014 – a rate that also more than doubled.
Next came children, adolescents, and young adults aged 1-24, followed by seniors over age 64 and infants less than one-year-old.
Rate Differences By State
States were ranked by hospital admission rates in 2014 for both men and women and all age groups. Massachusetts was the only state to be placed in the top 25% for all categories. Meanwhile, states Connecticut, Maryland, and Washington were all placed in the top 25 for both women and men, and three out of the four age groups.
Four states consistently ranked among the lowest rates of opioid-involved hospital stays among both women and men and all age groups in 2014. These were Iowa, Nebraska, Texas, and Wyoming.
Emergency Room Visits
For emergency room visits involving opioids in 2014, Maryland was the only state to be placed in the top 25% for both men and women and all age groups.
Also, states Massachusetts and Rhode Island were placed in the top 25% for both men and women and three out of the four age groups.
Also in 2014, states Arkansas and Iowa consistently ranked among the lowest rates of opioid-involved emergency room visits for both women and men and all age groups.
A Staggering Total
When all the hospital admissions and emergency room visits related to opioids were calculated for the years 2005-2014, the number totaled more than 1.2 million – roughly 36 times the number of deaths related to these drugs.
According to the CDC, in 2015, more than 33,000 people died of overdoses related to prescription painkillers or illicit opioids or opiates such as heroin. That was the highest number so far on record, but that number is expected to rise again for 2016 when the final tally becomes available later this year.
The CDC also estimates that roughly two million Americans are addicted to prescription drugs, and another 591,000 are addicted to heroin.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology