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Emergency Room Injuries

Accidental injuries are an unavoidable and unfortunate part of life. Try as we may to avoid it, there comes a time in everyone’s life where a simple mistake or unforeseeable event turns into a bump, bruise, or worse. Add drugs or alcohol into the situation and suddenly the scales begin tipping in favor of unintentional injury. We collected and analyzed National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) data as far back as 2009 to find out more about the types of injuries that occur when drugs or alcohol are involved. Take a look at the telling dangers of intoxication.

When alcohol and drugs are involved, virtually anything can become a catalyst to injury. Everyday household items and other objects are frequently cited in the accident reports. While the thought of some of these incidents might seem comical at first, the injury descriptions are actually quite serious. Major injuries have resulted from loss of self-control under the influence of drugs such as cocaine, heroin, and alcohol. One such report involves a female accidentally breaking off a hypodermic needle in her arm while shooting up cocaine and then trying unsuccessfully to cut it out with a razor blade. Several others reference people punching through walls and windows, resulting in lacerations and other injuries.

Impaired judgment and coordination can make for some exquisitely dangerous situations. The number of substance fueled accidents and injuries that lead people to the ER are without doubt even more numerous than those documented in medical records, as people will frequently hide or downplay the involvement of drugs or alcohol out of embarrassment and, perhaps, the fear of legal repercussion. We need all be mindful of the fact that the potential exists not only to inflict serious injury to oneself while under the influence of alcohol and drugs, but to anyone in close proximity – at a club or party, at home and, of course, on the road. Accidents and injuries are frequently representative of a larger problem with drugs and alcohol. We urge you to seek help before it gets to this point. Call  to speak with a substance abuse treatment support advisor about recovery programs able to provide the help that you or a loved one need.

Injuries aren’t limited to the home, however. The challenges in navigating the outside world amplify the dangers of impairing substances. Many body parts are prone to injury, but head and face injuries are the most common. For teens and older, these represent anywhere from a third to half of all recorded incidents.

One common theme involves being unable to safely navigate down a flight of stairs while under the influence. Descriptions of the incidents range from a simple slip and fall to the quite bizarre. In one example, a 21-year-old female stated she “drank mushroom tea, thought she was in hell, and jumped down stairs to get away.”

It’s unfortunate that those individuals who fall into the younger demographic spread in the U.S. consistently provide numerous examples of problematic drinking behavior. America’s youth also continue to experiment with recreational drugs at an alarming rate. Perhaps—as intoxicating substances are frequently incorporated into a night out—we’re seeing more and more bodily injuries outside of the home. As evidenced by the Emergency Room data in this review, some of these injuries can be quite severe, if not fatal. Don’t let a night out on the town lead to consequences that could tragically alter the course of your life and the lives of those around you. Call  to speak to a compassionate treatment support advisor about your recovery options.

When the injuries are tallied by age, both men and women follow a similar pattern. While it’s true that men have sometimes more than double the injuries of women, the peaks in early adulthood and middle age are remarkably similar for both sexes. Even scarier is the alarming spike among toddlers and young children. In many cases, these injuries are attributed to inadequate or ineffective supervision or accidental consumption of drugs left out by adults.

While it’s tough to be certain, one might speculate that the spike in injuries in a middle-aged group could very well reflect the dangerous combination of the impairing effects of drugs and alcohol coupled with a natural age-related decline in coordination. Whether you’re 21 or 50 – there’s really no good age to succumb to substance abuse, and the associated potential for bodily harm. If the use of drugs or alcohol has resulted in frequent or serious injury to yourself or those around you, at least one of the diagnostic criteria for Substance Use Disorder has already been met. Don’t wait for things to get worse – place a confidential call to , and speak with someone about how drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs can help save lives.

When looking at the most common areas for men to injure, it becomes possible to see what age groups are at highest risk. Men in the 49–59 year age brackets are consistently among the most injured.

The injury patterns for women are a bit more mixed. While the 50–54 year age group receives a high number of injuries overall, they’re not always the worst. The results are a bit more spread out, with groups in the 20s, 40s, and 60s also experiencing numerous injuries. One point that stands out within these graphs is the number of injuries to toddlers categorized as “all parts of the body.” Again, going back to the spike of incidents by age, these children are subjected to a variety of injuries due to poor supervision and the ingestion of dangerous substances left out by adults.

The injury data reveal that men are more accident-prone than women. However, women injure certain body parts with disproportionate frequency. These body parts include the foot, toe, and pubic region, followed by the ankle and upper arm.

Observing the trends in injuries over time, we notice a series of peaks and valleys in a fairly predictable pattern. Injury cases trend upward from spring months (March–May) through the  summer months (June–August). In each year represented, the fewest incidents always occurs between November and February. Spring Break, warm summer weekends, and longer days may be contributing factors to the number of injuries in their respective seasons.

Along with the seasonal fluctuations in the number of injuries, we notice a steady, gradual upward trend over the course of the study period. The busiest time for hospitals occurred in late summer of 2013.

In what should come as no surprise, the number of incidents spike considerably between Friday and Sunday. This three-day span represents more than half of all injuries that occur during the week.

The impairing effects of drugs and alcohol make even the most mundane tasks inherently more dangerous. Men and women of all ages accidentally injure themselves while impaired, in ways that most likely could have been avoided while sober. Even when at home, under the most familiar of conditions, all sorts of injuries occur. Simply put, the use of alcohol and drugs increases your chance of injury in virtually any situation.

If you are struggling with drug or alcohol abuse and would like to live a safer, addiction-free lifestyle, we can help. Call us at  to find support and recovery resources in your area.



We collected data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), which provides information on emergency room visits involving any type of consumer product. We filtered the data to look at only reports containing descriptions related to being under the influence. Patients’ ages and the dates of the injuries were included in the reported data. Using the NEISS Code Book, we were able to determine what products were involved in the injuries, where the injuries occurred, and what body parts were affected.

Children under the age of 18 were grouped according to child development groups defined by the CDC.

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