July 4 Weekend Dangerous for Underage Boys Who Drink:
THURSDAY, June 30 (HealthDay News) -- The number of U.S. teen
boys who end up in emergency rooms for drinking-related injuries
doubles over the July 4th weekend, federal officials say.
On July 3 and 4, drinking sends a daily average of nearly 1,000
youth under 21 -- two-thirds of them male -- to the ER for problems
related to alcohol use, according to a report by the U.S. Substance
Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
"When it's a holiday weekend, what we are finding now is that kids, especially young men, are ending up at the emergency room because of alcohol-related problems at almost double as what they would on any other day during July," said Peter Delany, director of SAMHSA's Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality.
Of those seen in emergency rooms over the July 4 holiday in
2009, 622 were boys and 304 were girls, according to the report.
Although the number of emergency room visits for girls held steady
throughout July, the emergency room visits by boys doubled during
the July 4th weekend.
Delany said drinking-related injuries are from fights, car
accidents and other mishaps. When kids drink, "they are at greater
risk for all those activities that can get you hurt," he
The same problem is seen on other holiday weekends, especially
New Year's, Delany added.
"Holidays are trigger points. We as a society have really attached alcohol to certain holidays," he said. "July 4th is a big one. New Year's is a big one."
The data for the study is culled from SAMHSA's 2009 Drug Abuse
Warning Network (DAWN) report, a system that monitors drug-related
hospital emergency department visits around the country.
"This is a really great opportunity to talk to your kids about what your expectations are for them -- when they are going to be involved in parties or going places -- about their drinking behavior," Delany said.
It is also a good time for communities to consider what can be
done to make the environment safe for kids, he added.
Commenting on the report, Dr. Tamara Kuittinen, director of
medical education in the emergency medicine department at Lenox
Hill Hospital in New York City, said that "it's not surprising.
It's a universal experience at festivals -- especially in summer,
there is a lot of drinking. So it is not surprising there is a lot
of underage drinking."
Kuittinen noted that binge drinking is becoming a big problem
among young adults and underage drinkers. "The problem is the risk
of violence and sexual assault, which happens more commonly as a
result of binge drinking on holidays," she said.
"No one should be drinking under age," Kuittinen stated. "But it's hard when there is peer pressure," she added.
For an online tool to help parents deal with underage drinking,
U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Serv...s
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