Hospitalizations for Alcohol and Drug Overdoses in Young Adults Ages 18-24 in the United States

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The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, part of the National Institutes of Health, found that the number of hospitalizations due to alcohol and drug overdoses has increased dramatically among 18- to 24-year-olds between 1999 and 2008.

Over the 10-year study period, the percentage of alcohol overdoses, drug overdoses and a combination of drug and alcohol overdoses increased by 25 percent, 56 percent and 76 percent, respectively.

In 2008, one in three hospitalizations for overdoses among young adults involved excessive alcohol consumption.  In the same year, alcohol overdoses alone caused 29,000 hospitalizations among 18- to 24-year-olds.  Drug overdoses caused 114,000 hospitalizations, and combined overdoses caused another 29,000.

The amount of poisonings from prescription opioid pain medications and related narcotics increased by 122 percent among 18- to 24-year-olds.  The study found that an alcohol overdose was involved in one in five of the poisonings from these medications.

Authors of the study said alcohol and drug hospitalizations are a growing problem among other age groups as well.

The study examined data taken from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a project designed to approximate a 20 percent sample of the U.S. community hospitals performed by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Click here to read a summary of the report, which appears in its entirety at the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.