ERs see a dramatic increase in alcohol-related accidents

Alcohol abuse is a crisis Hoosiers aren’t talking about, yet it is killing more people than opioids. Over the past 15 years, an estimated 90,000 people a year have died from alcohol-related problems as compared to the roughly 59,000 people who died from opioid overdoses in 2016. Alcohol and its related causes are the third leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. – the first being tobacco use and the second being poor diet and physical inactivity.

The National Institutes of Health recently reported that in less than one decade the number of ER visits involving alcohol consumption has increased 61.6%, from 3 million to 4.9 million, with a cost increase of 272%, from $4.1 billion to $15.3 billion. In a span of just nine years, the rate of alcohol-related visits to U.S. emergency rooms increased by nearly 50% between 2006 and 2014 and the cost of providing care more than tripled.

“Alcoholism is a progressive and potentially fatal disease,” said Robin Parsons, Chief Clinical Officer at Fairbanks. “A 50% increase to emergency rooms due to alcohol is alarming. As a health provider I feel obligated to educate people about this issue and passionate about working toward a solution. I believe we need to do a better job of decreasing stigma around alcohol use and getting people the help and resources they need to overcome their addiction –before it becomes deadly.”

Indiana’s opioid epidemic continues to capture headlines as many are working to not only raise awareness, but working toward a solution. It is a crisis that has received incredible support, attention and resources. However, treatment facilities such as Fairbanks understand the importance of educating the public, policymakers, employers and health care professionals about alcohol use disorders and abuse.

“Alcohol and cigarettes are commonly the first drugs used, but because they are legal, they are often disguised as less of a concern,” said Parsons. “This is of significant concern because these addictions are among the deadliest.”

It is estimated that one out of every eight people struggles with an alcohol disorder. While much of the state is focused right now on Indiana Sunday alcohol sales, there remains an urgency to continue to educate the public, policymakers and health care providers about alcohol abuse and high-risk drinking.

For information about substance abuse education and high-risk behaviors associated with alcohol and/or drugs, visit fairbankscd.org or call 1.800.225.4673.