Home » Blog » Alcohol-Related ER Visits on the Rise

Alcohol-Related ER Visits on the Rise

Jun 25, 2024

Alcohol-related emergency room (ER) visits, as reported by the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), reveal alarming trends from January 2021 to September 2023. Approximately 8.6 million ED visits were alcohol-related, outnumbering those related to opioids or cannabis. Key findings highlight demographics, polysubstance use, clinical diagnoses, and signs of risky alcohol use, emphasizing the need for targeted interventions and support systems.

Demographics of Alcohol-Related Emergency Room Visits

Analysis of national data highlights key trends in alcohol-related ER visits, with individuals aged 26-44 showing the highest rates, closely followed by those aged 45-64. Moreover, these visits predominantly involve males. These findings underscore the importance of targeted interventions and support systems tailored to address the specific needs of different demographic groups in combatting alcohol misuse and promoting healthier behaviors.

If you or a loved one need help, call our admissions team today at 561-270-1753.

Alcohol and Polysubstance Use in ER Visits

Polysubstance use occurs when individuals, intentionally or unintentionally, consume multiple substances within a brief timeframe. Out of an estimated 1,692,265 emergency room visits related to alcohol, the majority (80%) involved alcohol alone, while the remaining 20% involved alcohol combined with at least one other substance. This highlights the prevalence of polysubstance use among individuals seeking ER care for alcohol-related issues, underscoring the complexity and risks associated with concurrent substance use.

Clinical Diagnoses Related to Alcohol Use

In the emergency room, individuals are diagnosed by healthcare providers based on their presenting symptoms. The most frequent diagnoses in alcohol-related ER visits encompass alcohol consumption issues such as use, intoxication, or binge drinking, representing 37% of cases. Following closely is alcohol use disorder, accounting for 24%, a chronic condition marked by difficulty controlling alcohol intake. Additional diagnoses include injury or poisoning (16%), alcohol withdrawal syndrome (12%), and chronic liver disease (4%). A single visit to the emergency department may result in multiple diagnoses.

Signs of Risky Alcohol Use

Alcohol-Related Accidents or Injuries: Regularly suffering burns, falls, or violent altercations while under the influence of alcohol—all of which underscore the immediate dangers of alcohol abuse and the potential for ER trips for medical attention.

Escalating Tolerance: A greater need for alcohol to be consumed in order to get the desired benefits might be a sign of alcohol dependence and increase the likelihood of alcohol-related emergencies.

Frequent Public Intoxication: Frequent public intoxication at parties, events, or work functions may be a sign of a problematic drinking routine that could result in potentially dangerous situations demanding emergency medical attention.

Legal Troubles: The legal consequences of alcohol consumption might include being charged with disorderly conduct, public intoxication, or domestic violence, which can lead to emergencies requiring law enforcement or medical attention.

Mood Swings and Irritability: Exhibiting abrupt mood swings, heightened irritation, or emotional instability could represent underlying mental health problems made worse by alcohol use and could result in impulsive or dangerous behavior that could end up in an emergency.

Physical Health Deterioration: Noticeable decline in physical health, including symptoms such as persistent fatigue, unexplained weight loss or gain, liver difficulties, gastrointestinal troubles, or recurrent infections, which could escalate into a medical emergency if left ignored.

Repeated DUI Incidents: Multiple driving under the influence (DUI) arrests or tickets point to a pattern of unsafe behavior that puts not only the offender but also other drivers in danger and may result in accidents with serious injuries.

Relationship and Work Problems: Drinking-related disputes or disturbances in one’s personal or professional life, such as disagreements with coworkers, missing deadlines, or strained family dynamics, are signs of the detrimental effects of drinking on a variety of facets of life.

Risky Decision-Making: Driving at fast speeds, participating in dangerous sports, or making poor financial decisions are examples of reckless or impulsive conduct that can occur when under the influence of alcohol. These behaviors increase the risk of accidents or injuries that require emergency medical attention.

Uncontrolled Binge Drinking: Consuming excessive amounts of alcohol during periods when you lose control over drinking patterns can cause blackouts or extreme intoxication that could cause mishaps or medical emergencies.

Headwaters may be a good fit if you or a loved one needs help with drinking problems. Our multidisciplinary approach enhances the safety and effectiveness of treatment. It provides a holistic framework that promotes long-term recovery and overall well-being, enabling individuals to achieve lasting health and sobriety.

Tour Headwaters

Bedroom at HeadwatersHanley Foundation’s Headwaters is a non-profit addiction treatment program for executives, public figures, other affluent individuals, and their loved ones. Headwaters offers leading-edge, personalized clinical care for mental health and substance use disorders, and our professional and compassionate staff can help you achieve holistic wellness. To start your healing journey, call 561-270-1753 today.

You May Also Like…

How Alcohol Affects Your Heart

How Alcohol Affects Your Heart

Amidst the whirlwind of high-profile commitments, daily indulgences might seem like fleeting moments of relaxation....

What Is Alcoholic Myopathy?

What Is Alcoholic Myopathy?

As a long-term drinker, you might be familiar with experiencing a form of muscle weakness without knowing it's called...