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Club Drug-Related ER Visits Decrease

Stats Show Sharp Reversal From Earlier Trend

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Updated August 03, 2004

Emergency room visits related to club drugs – GHB, Ketamine, LSD and Ecstasy – remained stable or headed downward in 2002, according to a new report for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The report, "Club Drugs, 2002 Update" shows that emergency room visits associated with GHB declined by one-third between 2000 and 2002; visits involving LSD declined rapidly between 1999 and 2002; visits involving Ecstasy (MDMA) remained at 2001 levels; and ketamine-related visits remained at the low levels seen since 1998.

The report is based on SAMHSA's Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) that collects data on drug abuse-related visits to emergency rooms from a national sample of non-federal hospitals with emergency departments. DAWN does not reflect usage of a substance, but visits to emergency rooms because of drug use.

"While the trend news is good, too many young people still put their lives in danger," SAMHSA Administrator Charles Curie said. "Club drugs are dangerous, addictive and illegal. Their use can result in serious health consequences, even death. "It appears more and more young people are heeding this message and abandoning use of these destructive substances."

Club drug-related emergency room visits more than doubled from 1994 to 1999, but were and are relatively rare – constituting 1.2 percent of the drug abuse-related emergency room visits reported in 2002 (8,127 visits).

Most Patients Under Age 26

The new data are a sharp reversal from 2000, when GHB-related emergency room visits had risen from less than 60 in 1994 to 4,969 in 2000. Ecstasy-related emergency room visits had risen from over 250 to 4,026 between 1994 and 2002. Even Ketamine, the least-frequent club drug reported in emergency room visits, grew from 19 to 260 visits between 1994 and 2002.

Between 2000 and 2002, emergency room visits associated with GHB declined by one third from 4,969 to 3,330; Ketamine-related emergency room visits remained at very low levels; and LSD-related visits reached a new low, dropping from 5,126 visits in 1999 to fewer than 900 in 2002. While Ecstasy-related visits have not had a statistically-significant decline, they have stabilized from 2001 to 2002 after rising between 1999 and 2001.

In 2002, at least one other drug was present in the majority of emergency room visits involving GHB (84 percent), Ketamine (80 percent), LSD (77 percent), and Ecstasy (72 percent). Some of these visits involved multiple club drugs, but frequently club drugs were used in combination with alcohol, marijuana, cocaine and heroin.

Most of the patients in club drug-related emergency room visits were under age 26.

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