Report shows rise in methamphetamine-related hospital emergency department visits

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Hospital emergency department visits related to the use of the illicit drug methamphetamine rose from 67,954 in 2007 to 102,961 in 2011 according to a report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Overall, there were 1,252,500 visits to hospital emergency departments linked to the use of all illicit drugs.

Methamphetamine, or meth, has a high potential for abuse and addiction and can cause a wide array of potentially harmful intoxicating effects, including altered judgment and reduced inhibitions, leading to unsafe behaviors. The drug can also cause severe dental problems, anxiety, confusion, insomnia, mood disturbances, and violent behavior. Long term methamphetamine users may display psychotic manifestations, including paranoia, hallucinations, and delusions.

“This report shows that methamphetamine use may be on the rise again, and we must do everything we can to address this serious public health problem,” said Dr. H. Westley Clark, director of SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. “One important step is to use the hospital emergency department visit as a critical opportunity to talk to, and intervene with, people using this drug so that they can more fully understand its dangers and where they can turn to for help.”

People using the drug who are also taking antidepressants may experience dangerously high blood pressure, overheating, seizures, heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure.

Emergency department visits associated with methamphetamine significantly decreased between 2005 to 2007, but then rose between 2009 and 2011. From 2007 to 2011, there were significant increases in methamphetamine-related hospital visits involving those aged 25 to 34 and those aged 55 and older.

The report also found that in 2011, 62 percent of these methamphetamine-related emergency visits involved the use of this drug with at least one other substance. Twenty-nine percent of methamphetamine-related emergency hospital visits involved combined use with one other drug, and 33 percent involved combination use with two or more drugs.

In 2011, the top two substance combinations for methamphetamine-related emergency departments were marijuana (22 percent) and alcohol (16 percent). These were also the top two combinations in 2008.

SAMHSA sponsors Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment programs that are used in an array of medical settings (including emergency departments) to help health care providers identify and respond to potential substance use problems among patients. Providers can address the physical, social, and emotional impact of patients’ substance use as well as connect patients with specialized substance abuse treatment if indicated.

The report, Emergency Department Visits Involving Methamphetamine: 2007 to 2011, is drawn from SAMHSA’s 2007 to 2011 Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) – a public health surveillance system that monitors drug-related emergency department visits in the United States.

The complete report findings are available on the following SAMHSA Web site:

For more information about SAMHSA, visit our Web site:

For more information, contact the SAMHSA Press Office at 240-276-2130.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA's mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America's communities.

Last Updated: 08/19/2015