Meth causes more hospital visits than any other drug

Published January 19, 2006 12:29 am

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WASHINGTON - Methamphetamine use is causing more emergency room visits than any other drug use, according to a national survey released Wednesday by the National Association of Counties.

The survey of 200 emergency rooms nationwide found that 47 percent of hospitals listed methamphetamine as causing more emergency room visits than any other illicit drug. Marijuana was a distant second.

“There is no question that meth abuse is having a devastating effect on America's communities,” said Bill Hansell, president of the National Association of Counties. “The vast majority of meth being used today is being imported into our country. We have to find a way to treat those people that have become addicted and prevent others from becoming addicted.”

Nearly three-quarters of the hospitals had seen an increase in methamphetamine-related visits during the past five years, and the patients usually are often uninsured or underinsured.

Utah has reported a significant increase in the use of methamphetamine, particularly since 2001. According to state data, nearly 30 percent of patients seeking substance abuse treatment in 2005 were using methamphetamine, compared to fewer than 20 percent using marijuana, which has seen a small decline in its use.

The state records also show that a significantly larger percentage of women than men seeking substance abuse treatment use methamphetamine.

Surveys by the association last year found that sheriffs identified meth abuse as the top law enforcement problem in America, and child welfare officials had seen an increase in out-of-home child placements because of meth.