Government Statistics

The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) is a public health surveillance system in the United States that monitors drug-related visits to hospital emergency departments and drug-related deaths investigated by medical examiners and coroners.

DAWN provides valuable information on emergency department visits resulting from drug misuse or abuse, adverse reactions to drugs taken as prescribed, accidental ingestion of drugs, drug-related suicide attempts and other drug-related emergencies.

By taking a look at some of the information this agency provides we can see which drugs tend to be the most likely to contribute to medical emergencies.

Here’s a brief summary of recent DAWN data (2010).

*  In 2010, there were 4.9 million drug-related emergency department (ED) visits; about one half (46.8 percent or 2.3 million visits) were
attributed to drug misuse or abuse with a nearly equal percent (47.4%) attributed to adverse reactions. (Adverse reactions are negative
consequences related to taking a medication as prescribed or directed.) 

People go to the emergency room slightly more frequently due to taking drugs as directed than when abusing or misusing those drugs.

*  In 2010, emergency department visits resulting from the misuse or abuse of pharmaceuticals occurred at a rate 434.9 visits per 100,000
populations compared with a rate of 378.5 visits per 100,000 population for illicit drugs. 

In other words, pharmaceutical drugs are involved in more emergency room visits than illicit drugs.

Emergency room visits involving the misuse or abuse of pharmaceuticals increased 115% between 2004 and 2010, from   626,472 visits in 2004 to 1,345,645 visits in 2010.

Emergency room visits involving adverse reactions to pharmaceuticals taken as prescribed increased 86% between 2005 and 2010, from 1,250,377 visits in 2005 to 2,329,221 visits in 2010.

Here’s a breakdown from DAWN of the most commonly abused or misused drugs – 2010

Drug Commonly Involved in Emergency Room Visits - 2010

Another U.S. government agency that provides statistical information on drug-related health problems is the Center for Disease Control (CDC).  According to recent information provided by this agency deaths from Opioid Pain Relievers n

ow far exceed those from all illegal drugs.



Deaths From Painkiller Abuse Vs. Illicit Drugs

Deaths from Opioid Painkillers Versus Those from Illicit Drugs 2011