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News From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
December 17, 2014

Alcohol Combined With Drug Abuse Leads to More Overdoses and Deaths

JAMA. 2014;312(23):2482. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.16135

People treated in an emergency department (ED) for abusing opioid pain relievers (OPRs) or benzodiazepines frequently drink alcohol with the drugs, exacerbating their risk for overdose. An estimated 18.5% of ED visits related to OPR abuse and 27.2% related to benzodiazepine abuse involved alcohol, according to 2010 data from a sample of 237 EDs participating in the Drug Abuse Warning Network. Approximately one-fifth of drug-related deaths from OPRs included alcohol, as did the same proportion of deaths related to benzodiazepines, based on medical examiner and coroner data from 13 states (Jones CM. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2014;63[40]:881-885).

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