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ER visits from Underage Drinking Surpass the Norm on New Year's

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

A study from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) shows emergency room visits from underage drinking increased 263 percent in 2009, surpassing other National holidays. The findings, say the researchers, should serve as a wakeup call to parents and all other adults who should warn young people about the harm that can occur from consuming alcohol.

1,980 Emergency Room Visits from Underage Drinking on New Year's Day

The SAMHSA study found 1,980 emergency room visits January 1, 2009 had something to do with underage drinking, compared to 546 visits that is the national daily norm.

SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D says the findings 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.” She suggests open dialogue to warn young people about the physical and psychological harm than can come from underage drinking.

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Kenneth R. Warren, Ph.D., Acting Director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, part of the National Institutes of Health explains the winter holidays are known to bring more people to the emergency room from alcohol related problems.

He says, "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.”

Additional findings from the study showed New Year's Day visits from underage drinkers were 191 percent higher than Memorial Day 2009 and 110 percent higher than Fourth of July. According to Pamela Hyde, clergy, parents, coaches, teachers and other role models should speak with youth early and often, given the "stunning increase in underage drinking related emergency room visits on New Year’s Day."


This page is updated on June 11, 2013.