Concurrent Alcohol and Opioid Intoxication in Emergency Department Patients Leads to Greater Resource Utilization

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Substance use & misuse




HCUP; Opioids; alcohol; co-intoxication; emergency department


: Concurrent alcohol intoxication can complicate emergency department (ED) presentations for opioid-related adverse events. We sought to determine if there was a difference in resource utilization among patients who presented to the ED with concurrent opioid and alcohol intoxication compared to opioid intoxication alone. : Using linked state-wide databases from the Maryland Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP), we identified patients with a diagnosis of opioid intoxication treated in the ED from 2016 to 2018. We measured healthcare utilization for each patient in the ED settings for one year after the initial ED visit and estimated direct costs. We performed logistic regression comparing patients presented with co-intoxication to those without. : Of 12,295 patients who presented to the ED for opioid intoxication during the study period, 703 (5.7%) had concurrent alcohol intoxication. Patients with co-intoxication had more recurrent ED visits (340 vs 247.4 per 1000 patients,  < 0.05), higher index ED visit admission rates (26.9% vs 19.4%,  < 0.001), but similar overall costs ($3736 vs $2861,  < 0.05) at one year. Co-intoxication was associated with suicidal ideation (OR = 1.58, 95% CI 1.51-1.65), high zip code income (OR = 1.16, 95% CI 1.12-1.21), and higher rates of intoxication with all classes of drugs analyzed ( < 0.001). : Our study demonstrated that mental health disorders, socioeconomic status, and increased ED utilization are associated with co-intoxication of opioids and alcohol presenting to the ED. Further research is needed to elucidate factors responsible for the increased resource use in this population.


Emergency Medicine