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Highlights From DAWN:  Los Angeles, 2002
This special report presents findings based on data Top 5 drugs in drug abuse­related
submitted by 29 hospitals in the Los Angeles ED visits in Los Angeles, 2002
metropolitan area for 2002.
❋ Of the 2.7 million visits to Los Angeles area
emergency departments (EDs) in 2002, about
one percent (24,592) were related to drug abuse. 9,364
❋ During 2002, the most common drugs involved 9,000
in ED visits in the Los Angeles area were alcohol

Number of visits
in combination with other drugs, cocaine,
marijuana, heroin, benzodiazepines, and 
narcotic analgesics (pain relievers). 6,000 5,593

❋ In 2002, narcotic pain relievers and

benzodiazepines were each as frequent as heroin
in drug abuse­related ED visits in Los Angeles. 3,000 2,525 2,428

Alcohol­in­� Cocaine Marijuana Heroin Benzo­�
combination  diazepines

DAWN:  The Warning Network
Local information is essential to
support local action, and drugs, drug
use, and drug­related morbidity can Detroit
differ dramatically across communities. Buffalo
DAWN focuses on metropolitan areas Boston
to reveal emerging drug problems Denver Baltimore New York
San Francisco St. Louis Washington
before they become widespread. Newark
DAWN detects new drugs, new drug Philadelphia

combinations, new health consequences  Los Angeles
Phoenix Atlanta
of drug use, and changing patterns involving Dallas
old drugs. Facilities participating in DAWN San�
can use this information to train staff and
improve patient care. Communities can use this  Orleans
information to plan, target resources, and act more effectively. Miami

Today, hospitals in Los Angeles and 20 other metropolitan areas serve their 
communities by participating in DAWN. Expansion to other areas is underway.
DAWN serves a diverse audience. In addition to participating facilities, users include researchers and policy analysts; pharmaceutical firms;
State and local substance abuse agencies; community coalitions; and Federal agencies, including the White House Office of National Drug
Control Policy, the Food and Drug Administration, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse. For more information, go to
2 T H E   DA W N   R E P O RT     • F E B R UA RY   2 0 0 4

Trends in Top 4 Drugs, 1995­2002


❋ Cocaine­related ED visits in Los Angeles increased

77 percent between 1995 and 2002 (from 61 to
Los Angeles
108 visits per 100,000 population). Over the same

Rate per 100,000

period, the national rate rose 33 percent (from 58

to 78 visits per 100,000 population).
❋ Almost three­quarters (72%) of cocaine­related 50

ED visits in Los Angeles also involved other drugs.
About one­quarter (27%) of cocaine­related ED
visits were attributed to "crack." 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002


❋ From 1995 to 2002, marijuana­related ED visits

in Los Angeles more than tripled (from 21 to 64

visits per 100,000 population). Over the same
Rate per 100,000
population 100

period, the national rate increased 139 percent
Los Angeles
(from 19 to 47 per 100,000 population).

❋ Marijuana was reported in about one­quarter 50

(23%) of all drug abuse­related ED visits in Los
Angeles; most of these visits (85%) involved
marijuana with other drugs. 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002


❋ In 2002, the rate of heroin­related ED visits in

Los Angeles (29 per 100,000 population) was

similar to the national rate (36 per 100,000)

Rate per 100,000


when sampling error is taken into account.


Heroin­related ED visits in Los Angeles

decreased 21 percent between 2000 and 2002,
Los Angeles
while the national rate was stable.

❋ About half (52%) of heroin­related ED visits in
Los Angeles also involved other drugs. 0
1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002


❋ In Los Angeles, mentions of benzodiazepines in 75

drug abuse­related ED visits have been relatively
stable from 1995 to 2002. Over the same
Rate per 100,000


period, the national rate rose 25 percent (from U.S.

33 to 41 mentions per 100,000). Los Angeles
❋ Alprazolam, clonazepam, lorazepam, and 25

diazepam were the most frequently named
benzodiazepines in drug abuse­related ED visits
in Los Angeles in 2002. 0
1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002

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Comparisons Across 21 Metropolitan Areas

The following figures show Los Angeles in relation to the Nation and 20 other metropolitan areas represented in
DAWN for selected drugs in 2002. Comparisons across areas are possible because the number of visits for each drug
is represented in terms of a rate per 100,000 population. Not all differences0 in rates are statistically significant.

Cocaine visits� Marijuana visits�
Rate per 100,000 population, 2002 Rate per 100,000 population, 2002

Total U.S. 78 Total U.S. 47
Chicago 275 Philadelphia 150
Philadelphia 274 Detroit 146
Baltimore 257 St. Louis 124
Miami 240 Boston 119
Atlanta 239 Miami 111
Newark 186 Atlanta 96
Detroit 182 Baltimore 88
Buffalo 171 Chicago 78
New York 166� New Orleans 72�

164� �
Seattle Seattle

156 �
Boston Los Angeles
St. Louis 153 Buffalo 56
San Francisco 150 Washington, DC 55
New Orleans 145 Newark 54
Los Angeles 108 New York 47
Denver 82� Minneapolis 47�

71 �
Washington, DC San Diego 46
Phoenix 59 Phoenix 46
Minneapolis 55 San Francisco 39
Dallas 46 Denver 38
San Diego
0 32 Dallas 27
0 300 0 160

Heroin visits� Benzodiazepines visits�
Rate per 100,000 population, 2002 Rate per 100,000 population, 2002

Total U.S. 36 Total U.S. 41
Chicago 220 Boston 102
Newark 214 Philadelphia 95
Baltimore 203 New Orleans 82
San Francisco 171 St. Louis 78
Seattle 128 Detroit 69
New York 123 Baltimore 60
Boston 111 Newark 57
Philadelphia 109 Phoenix 53
Buffalo 93� Seattle 50�

93� �
Detroit Miami

85 �
Miami Chicago
New Orleans 53 San Diego 45
St. Louis 51 San Francisco 42
Denver 43 Buffalo 35
Washington, DC 38 Atlanta 34
Los Angeles 29 Dallas 30
San Diego 28 Los Angeles 28
Phoenix 23 Minneapolis 26
Atlanta 20 Denver 26
Minneapolis 16 New York 22 
Dallas 10 Washington, DC 21
0 225 0 130
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About DAWN

The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) is a national surveillance system that monitors drug­related
morbidity and mortality. Section 505 of the Public Health Service Act assigns this responsibility to the Substance
Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services. The Act requires SAMHSA to report annually on drug­related visits to hospital emergency
departments and on drug­related deaths reviewed by medical examiners and coroners. SAMHSA has a contract
with Westat, a private research firm based in Rockville, MD, to operate the DAWN system.

DAWN collects data from a scientific sample of hospital emergency departments and a set of medical examiners
and coroners from across the U.S., with concentrations in selected metropolitan areas. Each participating facility
has a DAWN Reporter who is specially trained to identify DAWN cases by retrospectively reviewing emergency
department medical records or death investigation case files. No patient, family member, or physician is ever
interviewed. No direct identifiers for individual patients or decedents are collected.

Beginning in 2003, DAWN cases include any emergency department visit or death that was related to drug use.
Reportable cases include drug abuse, misuse, overmedication, accidental and malicious poisonings, and adverse
drug reactions. For each case, the DAWN Reporter submits a case report detailing the specific drugs involved,
and characteristics of the patient or decedent and event (visit or death). Patient and decedent characteristics
include demographics (age, gender, race/ethnicity) and ZIP code. Other data items include date/time, chief
complaint, diagnoses, and disposition for each emergency department visit; and date, cause, manner, and place 
of death for each decedent.