Friday, August 20, 2010

Marchman Act Blog: Most Underage Drinkers Seen in ER Are Male

The majority of U.S. emergency-room (ER) visits for underage drinking involve males, according to a new report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

HealthDay reported Aug. 11 that researchers in SAMHSA's public health surveillance system analyzed 2008 data and found that one-third of drug-related ER visits among patients aged 12-20 involved alcohol. Of these, males accounted for 53 percent of patients aged 12-17 and 62 percent of patients aged 18-20.

"Alcohol consumption, especially by young males, is often seen as an exciting rite of passage into adulthood," said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde. "This has led to a public health crisis with adolescents suffering serious injuries that oftentimes lead to tragic consequences."

Results also showed that 70 percent of ER visits for underage drinking involved alcohol alone, while 30 percent involved alcohol in combination with other drugs, such as marijuana, anti-anxiety drugs, narcotics, and cocaine.

Only 19 percent of patients presenting for alcohol alone received follow-up care compared with 36 percent of patients presenting for both alcohol and drugs. "Every such emergency department visit provides an opportunity to conduct brief interventions that can reduce future alcohol and drug abuse and save young men's lives," said Hyde.

The full report, Emergency Department Visits Involving Underage Alcohol Use: 2008, is available on the SAMHSA Web site.

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