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Study: Detroit #4 For Drug Users In The ER

DETROIT (WWJ) - A new study ranks Detroit as fourth in the nation in the number of visits to hospital emergency rooms involving users of illegal drugs.

WWJ Newsradio 950 spoke with Dr. Lydia Baltarowich, who works in the ER at Detroit's Henry Ford Hospital, and sees the toll illegal drugs can take: skin rashes, amputations, comas and extreme paranoia.

Baltarowich said you may be surprised to hear who these patients are.

"In Detroit itself, at the Henry Ford, for example, and the DMC [Detroit Medical Center], the typical heroin users are usually in their 50s now, in their 40s, 50s, even early 60s," Baltarowich said. "The younger heroin users are probably out in the suburbs."

Baltarowich said overdoses amount to about 6 to 8 percent of the cases brought in to Henry Ford's ER each year.

She said they've recently been seeing psychological problems in those using a new form of synthetic marijuana.

"Often a prolonged euphoria, you know, that people see, whereas marijuana is relatively short, often can make them very paranoid and agitated, which we're not used to with marijuana," said Baltarowich. "Marijuana kinda settles people down and, you know, makes them calm, whereas this synthetic marijuana can make them look like they're a paranoid schizophrenic."

According to the report by the Drug Abuse Reporting Network or DAWN, Detroit takes a back seat to only Boston, New York and Chicago when it comes to the number of ER patients who use heroin, cocaine and amphetamines.

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