Hospitalizations for Drug Use Skyrocket

By Staff Writer

The number of individuals hospitalized for drug use saw a dramatic increase over the last decade, as a failure to seek substance abuse treatment caused many addicts to lose control of their drug use.

According to a report released recently by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the number of hospital admissions for drug use more than doubled from 1997 to 2008. The agency counted hospitalizations for drug-induced delirium, overdoses and drug withdrawal.

“This report reveals a disturbing trend, and we need to find out more about why these admissions are increasing,” said Carolyn M. Clancy, director of the agency. “As the average age of hospital patients continues to increase, so does the need for close monitoring of the types and dosages of drugs given to them.”

The rise in hospital admissions had a major impact on Medicare and Medicaid, which was forced to pay for 57 percent of the $1.1 billion in drug-related hospital fees. Agency officials said that limiting the use of opioid medications in treating pain may help reduce the number addicts.