Emergency rooms reported 14,270 intentional poisonings in 2009, according to a new government report. Alcohol was a factor in 60 percent of cases.
Nearly two-thirds of ER visits for intentional poisonings were by women, according to the report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
WebMD notes intentional poisonings are attempts to harm someone by deliberately getting them to take a potentially harmful substance without their knowledge. Often, intentional poisoning involves a “date rape” drug that is slipped into a woman’s drink at a bar or nightclub.
The report found one-third of intentional poisonings involve illegal drugs such as marijuana, stimulants or Ecstasy, while 21 percent involve prescription drugs. In about half of intentional poisoning cases, victims were poisoned with a combination of drugs and alcohol.
“The danger of being tricked into ingesting an unknown substance is all too real at bars, raves, parties or concerts where alcohol and other substances are shared in a social manner,” SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde said in a news release. “Not only is the health of the person who is poisoned compromised, they are in jeopardy of falling prey to other crimes such as robbery and sexual assault. Clearly some common sense precautions like being aware can go a long way in protecting oneself from people with malicious intent.”
SAMHSA advises a person who suspects they may be the victim of an intentional poisoning to call the national Poison Help toll-free number, 1-800-222-1222, to reach their closest poison control center.