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SAMHSA News Release

Date: 7/3/2014 12:05 AM
Media Contact: SAMHSA Press Office
Telephone: 240-276-2130

Report shows combining drug use with underage drinking raises health risks

Underage drinkers (ages 12 to 20) who were treated in hospital emergency departments were more than twice as likely to wind up with a serious health outcome if they also used drugs at the same time, according to a new study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). These serious outcomes included hospitalization, transfer to another health care facility following their emergency department visit, or death.


According to the study released by SAMHSA today, 20 percent of all hospital emergency department visits involving underage drinkers resulted in the patients having serious health outcomes. However, while 12 percent of these visits involving underage drinking alone resulted in these serious outcomes, the rate rose to 33 percent among those visits involving both underage drinking and concurrent drug use.


“The 9.3 million underage drinkers across America are putting their health and futures at risk – even more so when they combine alcohol with drugs,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde. “The start of summer is a good opportunity for parents and other concerned adults to talk with teens and young adults about the dangers of underage drinking and drug use.”


SAMHSA’s underage drinking prevention campaign, “ Talk. They Hear You., ” helps parents and caregivers connect with their child on the risks of underage drinking.  PSAs and online interactive tools, as part of the campaign, provide parents and caregivers modeling opportunities for initiating the conversation about alcohol.


SAMHSA partners with the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy to fund Drug Free Community (DFC) coalitions in more than 600 communities nationwide.  The DFC coalitions recruit, train, and welcome parents and youth volunteers to strengthen collaboration among community members and reduce drinking and drug use among youth. These coalitions work to support the health, safety, and well-being of their communities, families, youth, and the systems and organizations that prevent substance abuse. For DFC program information, visit .


The report, “Alcohol and Drug Combinations Are More Likely to Have a Serious Outcome than Alcohol Alone in Emergency Department Visits Involving Underage Drinking,” is available at: . It is based on data from SAMHSA’s 2011 Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) – a public health surveillance system that monitors drug-related emergency department visits in the United States.


For more information about SAMHSA, visit our website: .

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA's mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America's communities.

Last updated: 7/2/2014 11:14 AM

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