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News briefs

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Ice use adds up to 150 000 emergency room visits a year

Methamphetamine use adds between 29 700 and 151 800 additional emergency department visits in 1 year, according to researchers from Curtin University, the University of New South Wales, the University of Newcastle and Monash University. The study, published in Drug and Alcohol Review, estimated past year rates of health service utilisation (number of attendances for general hospitals, psychiatric hospitals, emergency departments, general practitioners, psychiatrists, counsellors or psychologists, and dentists) for three levels of methamphetamine use (no use, < weekly, ≥ weekly) using panel data from a longitudinal cohort of 484 dependent methamphetamine users from Sydney and Brisbane. “We estimate methamphetamine use accounted for between 28 400 and 80 900 additional psychiatric hospital admissions and 29 700 and 151 800 additional emergency department presentations in 2013,” the researchers wrote. “More frequent presentations to these services were also associated with alcohol and opioid use, comorbid mental health disorders, unemployment, unstable housing, attending drug treatment, low income and lower education.” They concluded that: “Better provision of non-acute health care services to address the multiple health and social needs of dependent methamphetamine users may reduce the burden on these acute care services.”

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