It seems the ongoing opioid epidemic is overshadowing the scourge of alcoholism in the United States, as a recent study has suggested that the emergency room (ER) visits for alcohol intoxication have seen a significant rise in recent years. According to the study published recently in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 2014 saw a 61 percent surge in ER trips due to drinking compared to 2006.
Researchers at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) analyzed data that included about 30 million visits to the emergency department (ED) of 945 hospitals in 33 states and Washington, D.C. They studied changes in frequency of ED visits involving acute and chronic alcohol use by age (individuals over 12 years) and sex between 2006 and 2014.
Neuroscientist Aaron White, one of the authors of the study, finds the unusual surge a bit mysterious because the same nine-year period showed a negligible 2 percent rise in the per capita overall alcohol consumption and an 8 percent increase in the overall number of ER visits for all reasons. “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,” said White.
However, White denied the existence of any strong evidence for a nationwide spike in binge drinking. Additionally, White was also surprised that women showed a progressive increase in trips to emergency rooms year after year. The researchers are also concerned about the rising burden on emergency departments during the nine-year period ending in 2014.
On the whole, alcohol is undoubtedly the major cause for a growing number of visits to emergency rooms in hospitals across the U.S., leading to yearly burden of $249 billion, according to a 2010 study. Most people forget that alcohol is capable of causing several medical emergencies if consumed irresponsibly or may even trigger other harmful conditions, leading to impairment of vital body functions.
Moreover, even people who drink in moderation should keep their doctors informed about their drinking habit to avoid any complication in the future. Whereas, for drinkers who make it to the emergency rooms, frequent counseling about the gravity of the issue can help them rectify their habits or reduce alcohol consumption. Ideally, screening individuals for vulnerability to alcoholism in first place, including other public health measures, is the key to avoid a trip to the emergency room.
Combating menace of alcohol addiction
If a person is battling alcoholism, there is no reason to feel ashamed because there are millions of Americans struggling with alcohol use disorder (AUD). According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) report, in 2016, 136.7 million Americans aged 12 or older reported current use of alcohol. Of them, 65.3 million were binge alcohol users and 16.3 million reported heavy alcohol use in the past month. Unfortunately, less than 8 percent of them ever seek professional treatment, which is why AUD is the third leading avoidable cause of death across the U.S.
Heavy drinking can pave the way for numerous physical and neurological defects. At the initial stage, the person has to accept the fact that there is a problem and he or she should take responsibility for it. Although it may not be easy in the beginning, it’s an essential step toward the path to recovery. Sovereign Health of San Clemente offers a variety of customized alcohol addiction treatment options. If you or your loved one is battling alcoholism, which continues to interfere in daily life activities, get in touch with our 24/7 helpline or chat online with one of our representatives. Clinicians at our world-class alcohol rehabs in California are trained to identify the underlying causes and prescribe effective treatments as well as group psychotherapy based on a patient’s requirements.