Big New Year's spike in underage drinking

Dec. 30, 2010 at 7:51 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- The number of U.S. teens who wound up in emergency rooms on New Year's Day 2009 due to drinking jumped 263 percent from an average day, health officials say.

A study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration shows that on New Year's Day 2009, there were an estimated 1,980 hospital emergency department visits involving underage drinking, compared with 546 such visits on an average day that year.

The New Year's Day underage drinking-related hospital treatment levels surpassed those of other holidays, which often far exceed normal daily drinking-related hospital rates. For example, the 2009 New Year's Day estimate was 191 percent higher than the Memorial Day level and 110 percent higher than the July Fourth level, the study found.

"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," Pamela Hyde, SAMHSA administrator, says in a statement. "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 well being."

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