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Study: Alcohol, Drug Hospitalizations Rise

National Institutes of Health study finds growing number of young adults hospitalized for alcohol, drug overdoses.

A rising number of young adults nationwide, between ages 18 and 24, have been hospitalized for alcohol and drug overdoses, according to a new study by researchers at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, which is a part of the National Institutes of Health.

The 10-year study, which was released Tuesday, reported a 25 percent increase in the number of alcohol overdoses, 56 percent increase in drug overdoses, and a 76 percent increase in a combination of alcohol and drug overdoses between 1999 and 2008.

"In 2008, one out of three hospitalizations for overdoses in young adults involved excessive consumption of alcohol," said Dr. Aaron White, one of the study's lead researchers, in a statement following the release of the report.

"Alcohol overdoses alone caused 29,000 hospitalizations, combined alcohol and other drug overdoses caused 29,000, and drug overdoses alone caused another 114,000. The cost of these hospitalizations now exceeds $1.2 billion per year just for 18 to 24-year-olds," White said.

In Hermosa Beach, alcohol's effect on public health has been . Los Angeles County in April released a report identifying Hermosa Beach as a city that has a high density of alcohol.

There are 38.6 outlets in town where people can drink alcohol, according to the report. In neighboring Manhattan Beach, there are 22.5 and in Redondo Beach there are 18.

Los Angeles County Health Officer John Fielding wrote in the county report that excessive alcohol consumption is "the second-leading cause of premature death and disability in Los Angeles County."

The National Institutes of Health study pointed to the toxic—and often accidental—practice of mixing prescription drugs with alcohol as a contribution to the recent sobering statistics.

"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," White said.

Researchers urged for stronger efforts to educate medical practitioners and the public about the dangers of not only excessive alcohol consumption but also drinking alcohol in combination with other drugs.

A video series of the alcohol policy discussion on Hermosa Beach Patch:

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