Hospital emergency department visits involving underage drinking increased more than 250 percent on New Year's Day, according to a new study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The brief study shows that on New Year’s Day 2009, there were an estimated 1,980 emergency department visits involving underage drinking, compared to 546 such visits on an average day that year - a 263 percent increase.
The New Year’s Day underage drinking admission levels even surpassed other National holiday levels, which past SAMHSA studies have revealed often far exceed normal daily rates. For example, the 2009 New Year’s Day estimate was 191 percent higher than the Memorial Day level (676) and 110 percent higher than the Fourth of July level (942).
"This stunning increase in underage drinking related emergency room visits on New Year’s Day should be a wake up call to parents, community leaders and all caring adults about the potential risks our young people face for alcohol-related accidents, injuries and death during this time of year," said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D. "Parents, clergy, coaches, teachers and other role models must do everything they can to positively influence young people including talking with them early and often about the many health dangers underage drinking poses to their physical and emotional health and wellbeing."
"This very troubling finding is in line with what we already know about the increase in alcohol-related problems during the winter holidays," says Kenneth R. Warren, Ph.D., Acting Director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, part of the National Institutes of Health. "For example, during Christmas and New Year’s, two to three times more people die in alcohol-related crashes than during comparable periods the rest of the year. And 40 percent of traffic fatalities during these holidays involve a driver who is alcohol-impaired, compared to 28 percent for the rest of December."
The study was developed as part of SAMHSA’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://oas.samhsa.gov/
. For those interested in helping to prevent underage drinking, SAMHSA offers a variety of educational and other materials at: http://www.underagedrinking.samhsa.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.