As marijuana legalization sweeps the nation, more people are feeling justified in using their drug of choice. While not all drug use leads to disaster, it can be difficult to predict how someone will react to a drug or understand the long-term health consequences of drug use.

These are complex issues, and physicians are battling this daily in emergency rooms, where an increasing number of people exhibit puzzling symptoms or experience a drug overdose. A recent study concluded that these events might justify more comprehensive drug testing in the ER.

Study Reveals Complex Issues in Dealing with ER Patients

ER admissions for drug abuse are skyrocketing. While many of these are attributed to opioid use, a rising number relate to other illicit drugs, such as synthetic marijuana.

Opioid addiction in the United States continues to be a pervasive issue, and many states are addressing prescription drug addiction through a variety of programs. Unfortunately, fentanyl is a synthetic form of the drug that is not only more powerful but also unpredictable and deadly.

Synthetic marijuana is another danger. Drugs like K2 and Spice remain popular and are becoming more dangerous. Some even have traces of rat poison in them, which has caused severe health concerns, overdose and death.

When a person enters the ER with a drug-related condition, he or she may not be coherent enough to provide medical staff with enough information to assist with life-saving treatment. A new study concludes that more comprehensive drug testing in the ER can help solve many of these issues.

doctor holding electronic

Comprehensive testing can help physicians identify drugs of misuse to quickly deliver the right treatment.

How Can More Comprehensive Drug Testing Help?

Researchers at the University of Maryland Medical Center began studying drug-related events at two Maryland emergency departments in 2016. The purpose of the study was to help physicians make sense of “atypical overdoses.”

Atypical overdoses are those that responded to naloxone treatment but also involved acute agitation, hyperactivity and violence — all symptoms that are atypical of an opioid overdose.

Physicians believed that having better information about the drugs of abuse would aid in effective treatment. This is why researchers recommend more comprehensive drug testing in the ER. Typically, hospitals use a urine test to reveal just a handful of drugs, but there are more complex drug formulations on the street today.

In the University of Maryland study, comprehensive testing allowed for the identification of 59 designer drugs, 26 synthetic cannabinoids and 84 other prescription and illicit drugs. The physicians found that the substances being used were more complex than they originally thought. There are also regional variations in the drugs of misuse and abuse, creating even more dangerous combinations.

Drug Addiction Treatment Options 

If you are abusing any type of drug, whether it be a prescription medication or other illicit substance, your health and safety could be in jeopardy. Drug abuse can lead to serious medical consequences, including overdose and death.

If you need help with a substance use disorder, you do not have to fight this battle alone. The qualified and compassionate team at The Recovery Village is ready to help you break free from addiction and begin a new life in recovery today.

Contact The Recovery Village now to speak with someone, get your questions answered, and learn about your options for admission.