Stanly had a higher rate of alcohol emergency room visits than state

Published 3:06 pm Monday, April 22, 2019

Stanly had one of the higher rates of acute alcohol intoxication hospital emergency room visits in 2017 compared to neighboring counties, according to the latest data released by N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

Stanly’s rate of 335 people admitted to ER per 100,000 residents was slightly higher than the state average of 322, and also higher than Cabarrus (207), Union (272), Rowan (227), Davidson (184) and Montgomery (295).

But a few other local counties like Mecklenburg (477), Anson (428) and Richmond (408) were worse.

In 2017, Stanly had 206 emergency room visits, of which seven were for people younger than 21.

“I would not say I am surprised but it is certainly a concern that we are higher than the state average,” said David Jenkins, Stanly County Health and Human Services Director. “It is an issue we should certainly evaluate as a community to determine if there are options to deter since there is economic cost associated with excessive alcohol use as it relates to loss in productivity, healthcare, and the criminal justice system.”

When compared to Stanly’s four peer counties in the state — having similar demographics, the results were mixed: Stanly had a better rate than Haywood (498) and Moore (408), but not as good as Carteret (218) or Chatham (119).

Overall, Stanly’s rate is not great, but nearly as bad as other counties around the state like Macon with 642, Halifax with 715, Robeson with 617 and Yancey with 800.

According to Stanly County’s 2018 Community Health Assessment, 32 percent of respondents viewed alcoholism/alcohol abuse as a major problem, which was the fourth-highest health issue behind drug abuse, tobacco use and obesity.

There was a total of 33,072 acute alcohol intoxication emergency room visits in the state in 2017. An estimated 4,000 people died from alcohol-related causes, according to the data.

“Excessive drinking can lead to the development of chronic diseases and other serious problems,” State Health Director and DHHS Chief Medical Officer Elizabeth Tilson said. “Making these data widely available will help citizens and their community leaders develop effective strategies to address this rising public health problem.”

North Carolinians between the ages of 20-34 experience the greatest years of life lost due to alcohol use, according to the data. They lose 25,958 years of life on average, mainly due to immediate alcohol risks such as car crashes, falls, risky behavior, drowning and alcohol poisoning.

To raise awareness of the risks underage drinking possess to young people, Gov. Roy Cooper proclaimed April as Alcohol Awareness Month.

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

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