Hospital emergencies and the consumption of drugs in Europe

A report by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) states that every year thousands of people need to be attended in hospital emergency rooms because of the use of a range of drugs. The report is based on the analysis carried out by the European Drug Emergency Network (Euro-DEN Plus), which monitors the admission of drug-related emergency cases in 20 reference hospitals. The report includes cases from October 2013 Until September 2015. During this period 10,956 cases were recorded, three quarters of which (76%) were discharged by the same emergency service and 45% within four hours. In 49 cases, the intoxication caused the death of the patient. Most of those affected (68%) were taken to hospital by ambulance.

Informe de l’Observatori Europeu de les Drogues i les Toxicomanies (EMCDDA

Source: Report of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA)

Most of those affected are adults between 20 and 39. Men outnumber women at all ages and amount to 76% of the total. In 62% of cases, one single substance caused the intoxication, while two were detected in 26% of cases and more than two in the rest. Most of the substances detected (64%) were illegal drugs. Heroine was the most common (24% of cases), but there was also cocaine (1,816 cases), cannabis (1,741 cases), amphetamines and MDMA. New psycho active substances (NPS) were found in 11% of all drug-related emergencies. In a quarter of cases, prescription drugs were the cause (opioids and benzodiazepines).

The most common symptoms were aggression (26%), chest pain (7%) and psychosis (6%). 84% of death-related cases involved men of an average age of 29. In 23 cases, the drug causing the death was an opioid; in 15, stimulants, and in 9%, new psycho active substances.

The months with most drug-related admissions were June, July and August (over 1,000), whereas in winter (December, January and February) there were under 800. Hospitals with the largest number of admissions were in Germany, Ireland, Poland and the United Kingdom.

The number of hospital admissions reflects the damage drugs do to those who consume them and the Monitoring Centre wishes to make this public in order to raise awareness about the associated dangers and reduce consumption.

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