Ingestion of adolescents: various reasons and drugs
After completing this article, readers should be able to:
Explain the national trends in adolescent suicidal ingestion and recreational abuse.
Familiarize yourself with ingestions of prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, and recreational drugs of abuse.
Describe the potential serious clinical complications and treatment options for these ingestions.
Adolescents generally do not unintentionally ingest pharmaceutical agents, as seen in the younger pediatric population. The main reasons for ingestion by adolescents generally fall into 2 categories: suicidal / self-harm and recreational abuse. These 2 categories are very important and have different levels of morbidity and mortality. The agents ingested may be unique and require different clinical management and prevention strategies. Suicidal ingestions alone now account for over a million emergency department visits annually, making this a very timely and important review article. (1)
Adolescent suicides and suicide attempts are on the rise and now represent more than 1.12 million emergency room visits per year. (1) The reasons are multifactorial, ingestions being an integral part of a plan or of a suicide attempt. A recent study assessed national trends in suicidal ingestions over the past decade using the National Poison Center System, a database that includes all calls to poison control centers in the United States. (2) This study found that there were approximately 400,000 calls for “suspected intentional suicide”. More importantly, adolescent ingestion calls accounted for over 80% of all intentional ingestion calls during the study period. The top 5 agents ingested included over-the-counter acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and antihistamines, as well as prescription psychiatric drugs.