Hospital emergency department visits involving underage drinking double for males during the Fourth of July holiday weekend according to a new study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The study revealed that during the holiday weekend of July 3-5, 2009, there was a daily average of 942 emergency department visits related to alcohol use by people under the age of 21. Two thirds of these visits (622) were by males and 304 visits were by females. Although the number of emergency department visits for young females remained steady throughout the month including the July 4th weekend, the number of visits for young males doubled during that holiday weekend.
“This study sheds light on the grim truth that holidays are too often marked by a surge in underage drinking turning what should be a time of celebration into a time of tragedy,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde. “Clear parental disapproval of alcohol use by their children can assist in preventing underage drinking. To help parents be clear, SAMHSA has developed an online tool at http://www.underagedrinking.samhsa.gov/ for creating an action plan to make their expectations known.”
The study was developed as part of the agency’s strategic initiative on data, outcomes, and quality – an effort to inform policy makers and service providers on the nature and scope of behavioral health issues. It is based on SAMHSA’s 2009 Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) report. DAWN is a public health surveillance system that monitors drug-related hospital emergency department visits reported throughout the nation.
A copy of the study is available at: http://www.oas.samhsa.gov/spotlight/Spotlight025AlcEDunderAgeMales.pdf.
Information and materials on how to help prevent underage drinking are available at: http://www.underagedrinking.samhsa.gov/ or http://www.stopalcoholabuse.gov/.
SAMHSA is a public health agency within the Department of Health and Human Services. Its mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.
Media Contact: SAMHSA Press Office