Methamphetamine, Amphetamine, and MDMA Use and Emergency Department Recidivism

John R. Richards, Taylaur W. Placone, Colin G. Wang, M. Christien van der Linden, Robert W. Derlet, Erik G Laurin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Emergency department (ED) recidivism and the use of amphetamine and associated derivatives such as methamphetamine and MDMA (MAE), are intersecting public health concerns. Objective: This study aims to determine the frequency of ED recidivism of patients who use MAE and associated factors. Methods: The study was a retrospective 6-year electronic medical record review of patients with MAE-positive toxicology screens and single and multiple ED visits in the span of 12 months. Results: There were 7844 ED visits by 5568 MAE-positive patients. Average age was 42 ± 13 years. The majority were male (65%), white (46%), tobacco smokers (55%), and in the psychiatric discharge diagnostic-related group (41%), followed by blunt trauma (20%). Admission rate was 35%, with another 17% transferred to inpatient psychiatric treatment facilities. Occasional (2–5 visits/year), heavy (6–11 visits/year), and super users (≥12 visits/year) altogether accounted for 20% of patients and 43% of visits. Heavy and super users combined represented 2% of patients and 10% of visits, with significant differences for race/ethnicity, health insurance, tobacco smoking, and psychiatric/cardiovascular/trauma discharge diagnostic-related groups. Heavy and super users were less likely to be admitted and more likely to be discharged to an inpatient psychiatric treatment facility. Regression analysis revealed racial/ethnic differences, female gender, and tobacco smoking to be associated with super and heavy use. Heavy users were more likely to have cardiovascular-related discharge diagnoses. Conclusions: The prevalence of ED recidivism in patients who use MAE is similar to published ranges for general ED users. Significant differences in demographics, discharge diagnoses, insurance, smoking, and disposition exist between nonfrequent and frequent ED users.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Emergency Medicine
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2020


  • amphetamine
  • emergency
  • MDMA
  • methamphetamine
  • recidivism
  • revisit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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