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You are here: Home News and media CMC media releases Media releases — 6 August 2008 – 23 June 2009 Report reveals drug use patterns among hospital emergency patients — 24.09.2008
You are here: Home News and media CMC media releases Media releases — 6 August 2008 – 23 June 2009 Report reveals drug use patterns among hospital emergency patients — 24.09.2008
You are here: Home News and media CMC media releases Media releases — 6 August 2008 – 23 June 2009 Report reveals drug use patterns among hospital emergency patients — 24.09.2008

Report reveals drug use patterns among hospital emergency patients — 24.09.2008

Queensland law enforcement and health agencies have been provided with a detailed picture of the extent of drug and alcohol use among hospital patients at the fourth busiest emergency room in Australia following today’s release of a joint research report.

The report – Exploring drug use II: drug use by hospital emergency department patients – was a joint project between the Crime and Misconduct Commission, the Queensland Alcohol and Drug Research and Education Centre of the University of Queensland and the Australian Centre for Prehospital Research, Queensland Ambulance Service.

CMC Director of Research and Prevention, Dr Margot Legosz, said the study involved surveying a sample of 1202 patients presenting with various complaints to the Gold Coast Hospital’s emergency department during a two-week period in 2005.

‘We found that drug and alcohol use among patients was very high compared to the levels of use found in the general community. This reinforces the known negative links between these substances and poor health or injury,’ Dr Legosz said.

‘The study is a follow-up to our 2004 report (Exploring drug use: Prevalence and patterns among emergency department patients) which detailed the prevalence of illicit drug use among patients surveyed in 2002. It has significant implications for future law enforcement and health service strategies as authorities attempt to tackle illicit drug use in Queensland.

‘More than 50 per cent of respondents reported using illicit drugs at some time in their life. This compares to just over a third of people within the general community,’ she said.

‘The most commonly used illicit drug – cannabis – had been used by half the participants. Many patients also claimed that cannabis and alcohol were responsible for a number of personal problems in the six months prior to their participation in the survey.’

Overall, respondents had significantly higher usage levels of all illicit drugs than people in the general population:
• 21.1% had used ecstasy compared with 7.5% of the general population
• 20.8% had used amphetamine compared with 9.1% of the general population
• 13.1% had used cocaine compared with 4.7% of the general population
• 12.8% had used hallucinogens compared with 7.5% of the general population.

Dr Legosz said that of the 257 participants who reported consuming alcohol before arriving at the hospital, 23.7 per cent had drunk enough to be considered at ‘high risk’ drinkers (males: 11 or more standard drinks; females: 7 or more standard drinks), and another 12.1 per cent had drunk at levels considered to be ‘risky’ (males: 7–10 standard drinks; females: 5–6 standard drinks).

‘We also found that one in five drivers admitted to drink driving in the last 12 months, and almost 12 per cent admitted to driving under the influence of drugs in the same timeframe,’ she said.

‘When we compared the prevalence of drug use among the sample with that of our previous study undertaken in 2002, the rates of use overall were very similar. However, we did find a significant drop in the prevalence of illicit drug use among young patients, aged 16-19 years (from 66% in 2002 to 55% in 2005), which is encouraging, even though the rates of use remain very high.

‘Conversely we found a slight increase overall in the use of ecstasy and cocaine, albeit at relatively low levels,’ Dr Legosz said.

Read the report – Exploring drug use II: drug use by hospital emergency department patients.


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Karen Crook or Leanne Hardyman
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Last updated: 07 December 2011
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