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Drinking and drugging can be painful

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"We included all medically treated non-work injuries except alcohol and drug poisonings," said Miller. "This included falls, car crash injuries, assaults, suicide attempts, near-drownings, suffocations, poisonings that were not substance-abuse related, injury deaths in the hospital, among many others. We excluded medical misadventures that resulted in injury. We also excluded injuries treated at the same time that someone was admitted to the hospital primarily for substance-abuse treatment because some of those injuries might not have been treated absent the substance-abuse treatment. This latter decision considerably lowered our injury counts for substance abusers, making them conservative."

Despite the conservatism of their injury findings, the researchers found a notable difference in the risk of injury between those who abused alcohol and other drugs and those who did not. Those individuals clinically identified as substance abusers had an elevated risk of injury. Alcohol-and-drug abusers had the highest risk of injury (58%), followed by drug-only abusers (49%), alcohol-only abusers (46%), and those who did not abuse any drugs (38%). Compared to those without a diagnosed substance-abuse problem, said Miller, alcohol abusers were twice as likely, drug abusers were three times as likely, and alcohol-and-drug abusers were almost four times as likely to be hospitalized for an injury during the three years examined.

"This study provides important evidence regarding the extent of substance abuse disorders and injuries in a population of people who are employed and receive insurance coverage through their employers," said Linda C. Degutis, assistant professor of surgery and public health at Yale University. Each year, she added, substance abuse costs businesses at least $10 billion in absenteeism, injuries, medical liability and health care costs.

"Investment in treatment is an effective strategy to reduce these costs," said D
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Contact: Ted R. Miller, Ph.D.
miller@pire.org
301-586-9200 x727
Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research
14-Jan-2001


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