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Government researchers report a dramatic jump in the number of hospitalizations for overdoses caused by drugs and alcohol among 18- to 24-year olds.

The researchers, from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, found that between 1999 and 2008, hospitalizations among this age group rose by 25 percent for alcohol overdoses, 56 percent for drug overdoses and 76 percent for overdoses caused by a combination of drugs and alcohol.

One out of three hospitalizations for overdoses in young adults involved excessive alcohol consumption in 2008. Hospitalization rates for alcohol overdoses among young adults reached 29,000 cases in 2008. Combined drug and alcohol overdoses caused 29,000 hospitalizations, and drug overdoses caused 114,000.

Opioid overdoses are also a problem, the study found. The researchers saw a 122 percent jump in the rate of poisonings from prescription opioids and related narcotics among young adults. “The combination of alcohol with narcotic pain medications is particularly dangerous, because they both suppress activity in brain areas that regulate breathing and other vital functions,” researcher Aaron M. White, PhD, said in a news release.

The study is published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.


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