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January 2009

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Contact Media Services: (240) 276-2130

SAMHSA News Bulletin

Date: 12/5/2008
Media Contact: SAMHSA Press Office
Telephone: 240-276-2130

SAMHSA Releases New Data on Drug-related Hospital Emergency Department Visits

The latest Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) report - drawn from a sample of hospital emergency departments across the Nation - indicates that more than 1.7 million visits for treatment were associated with some form of substance misuse or abuse.  The 2006 DAWN report, developed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), provides the latest estimates on how substance use affects this critical part of the Nation’s healthcare system.

Among the report’s more notable findings:

• Cocaine was involved in 548,608 emergency department visits.

• Marijuana was involved in 290,563 emergency department visits.  

• Heroin was involved in 189,780 emergency department visits.

• There were 126,704 emergency department visits by patients under age 21 where alcohol was the only substance involved in the visit.

• Stimulants, including amphetamines and methamphetamines, were involved in 107,575 emergency department visits. 

The DAWN report provides a great deal of other detailed information on how problems with a wide range of other substances contribute to hospital emergency department visits.  These substance problems include the use of other illicit drugs as well as the non-medical use of prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs.

The report also provides statistical breakdowns on drug-related hospital emergency department visits by key demographic groups and other factors.

Several sampling and estimation improvements were incorporated in the development of the 2006 DAWN report.  Many of these improvements in methodology were retroactively applied to 2004 and 2005 DAWN data to promote greater comparability among the estimates for 2004-2006.

The full DAWN report is available at  For related publications and information, visit


SAMHSA is a public health agency within the Department of Health and Human Services. The agency is responsible for improving the accountability, capacity and effectiveness of the nation's substance abuse prevention, addictions treatment, and mental health services delivery system.

Page Last Updated: 12/5/2008