"Now, they're talking about a relatively small proportion of all the emergency room visits for intoxications of any kind," he noted. "On the other hand, I don't want to be alarmist but this is 15,000 visits for intentional poisonings. That's about five a day. And it seems there a quite a lot of motives for doing this. It's not just women being given date-rape drugs. There is a risk for both men and women.
"And I also wonder if these numbers are actually an underestimate," Brodsky added. "Because younger people under the age of 21 -- say, bystanders at a fraternity or dorm who come upon an underage student who is passed out -- are less likely to call for an ambulance or health care personnel in these kind of situations, because they don't want to be implicated. So there may be many more serious examples of this that don't end up in the ER.
"Either way, not only do people need to make sure that someone doesn't stick something in their drink," he said. "They should also be careful if someone says 'Here, try this pill,' because a large percentage of these poisonings are tied to prescription drugs. Sometimes with alcohol, sometimes not. So, people need to be awfully cautious all around."
For more on poisoning, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
SOURCES: Peter Delany, Ph.D, LCSW-C, director, SAMHSA's Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Rockville, Md.; Michael Brodsky, M.D., medical director, "Bridges to Recovery," Pacific Palisades, and instructor/psychiatrist, UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, Los Angeles; Nov. 10, 2011, Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) Report
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