WASHINGTON, Feb. 11, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The untimely deaths of actors Philip Seymour Hoffman and Cory Monteith from drug overdoses once again highlight a serious continuing public health problem in America that emergency physicians see every day.
"We see up close and personal the severe damage these poisons can do to the human body," said Dr. Alex Rosenau, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians. "Sadly, for many overdose victims, it's too late. They are not lucky enough to make it through the doors of an emergency department for a chance that we can save them."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drug overdose was the leading cause of injury death in 2010. Among people 25 to 64, drug overdose caused more deaths than motor vehicle crashes.
- More than 75 percent of the 38,000 drug overdose deaths in 2010 were unintentional and 60 percent were related to prescription drugs.
- Drug overdose deaths rose 102 percent from 1999 to 2010.
- In 2011, drug misuse and abuse caused 2.5 million emergency room visits.
- Illicit drug abuse contributes $11 billion to health care costs, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
"Using substances like heroin, cocaine or methamphetamine is like ingesting toxic chemicals," said Dr. Rosenau. "It's a huge risk, not only of addiction, but with your life."
A recent study in Annals of Emergency Medicine found that states that decriminalized marijuana saw dramatic increases in poison center calls and emergency department admissions regarding children with unintentional marijuana exposures. The study says that high-doses of the drug in edible products, such as candies, cookies and chocolates, may have played a significant role in the increase rate of accidental reported exposure, chiefly because kids can't distinguish between products that contain marijuana and those that don't.
Emergency physicians urge you to be on the lookout for warning signs if you suspect a loved one may be involved with illicit drug use. They include:
- Physical changes like a lasting cough or red, glazed eyes and repeated health complaints.
- Emotional changes, like sudden mood swings, personality change, depression, poor judgment and irritability to name a few.
- Family changes like starting arguments or withdrawing attention as well as breaking rules.
- Social changes like new friends, problems with the law and changes to less conventional styles in dress and music.
- If it's a student — issues may include lack of interest in school, lower grades, increased absences from class and discipline problems.
For information on how to get help, please go to our website www.EmergencyCareForYou.org.
ACEP is the national medical specialty society representing emergency medicine. ACEP is committed to advancing emergency care through continuing education, research and public education. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, ACEP has 53 chapters representing each state, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. A Government Services Chapter represents emergency physicians employed by military branches and other government agencies.
SOURCE American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP)