The Drug Abuse Warning Network, also known as the DAWN, recently released its nationwide report on 2021 findings from drug-related emergency department (ED) visits.

Here are a few of the highlights from the 2021 report:

Weighted National Estimates for All Drug-Related ED Visits

  • Patients aged 26 to 44 had the highest percentage (40%) of all drug-related ED visits, followed by patients aged 45 to 64 (32%), with the majority being males (61%).
  • The greatest proportion of all drug-related ED visits was with White patients at 61% while patients who were Black or African American were at 15%. Additionally, the majority of these drug-related ED visits were among those patients who were not Hispanic or Latino (75%).

Weighted National Estimates for the Top Five Drugs in Drug-Related ED Visits

  • The top five drugs involved in drug-related ED visits were alcohol (42%), opioids (15%), methamphetamine (11%), marijuana (11%), and cocaine (5%).
  • Fentanyl-related ED visits increased in 2021 from nearly 17% at the end of the first quarter to nearly 29% at the end of the year.
  • Heroin-related visits peaked at 27% and then dropped in the last quarter to nearly 23% while other opioid-related visits topped out early in the year at almost 30%, dipping to almost 23% at year’s end.
  • Young adult patients aged 18 to 25 had the second highest percentage of ED visits related to marijuana (27%) and fentanyl (17%).

As a data collection program of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the DAWN provides important and early ED visit monitoring data aimed to understand the scope and significance of the substance use problem in the United States. Please download the report to view the additional detailed information, charts, and figures.

 Download the Report