Study Reveals Increase in Alcohol-Related ER Trips

Alcohol-related ER visits are on the rise.
Researchers are puzzled over the dramatic increase in alcohol-related ER visits.

According to a recently released study, an annual increase in the number of trips to hospital emergency rooms as a result of alcohol has steadily risen, with an increase of 61 percent in the number of visits in 2014 as compared to 2006.

The study, which was published earlier this month in the Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research journal, found that the number of visits to hospital emergency rooms had experienced a dramatic increase over the past nine years. However, the reasons for the increase are not immediately clear.

In addition to the 61 percent increase in alcohol-related emergency room visits, the study also determined that there had been a 2 percent increase in alcohol consumption per capita, while trips to the emergency for any reason had increased by 8 percent. Still, these two variables do little to explain the dramatic increase in alcohol related visits.

Furthermore, the study did not find any evidence that there had been a national increase in rates of binge drinking, leaving the study authors — four out of five of which work at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism — puzzled about what might be fueling the national increase.

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The researchers analyzed national data, which encompassed information on roughly 30 million trips to hospital emergency rooms. The data came from 33 states and Washington, D.C., and included 945 hospitals.

Another aspect of the data that has puzzled the researchers in an increase in the number of women who visited the emergency room for alcohol-related reasons. In the past, men not only visited the emergency room more often than women, they also had higher rates of drunk driving, death from cirrhosis of the liver, and binge drinking.

However, the researchers found that women were rapidly closing the gender gap on these statistics, another phenomena which the researchers are unable to explain. This makes associated details, such as the fact that men are more likely than women to receive emergency room referrals to a drug rehab clinic, even more troubling.