Males dominate hospital ED visits by underage drinkers

Despite laws in all 50 states that prohibit underage drinking, it's still a seemingly intractable problem. In 2008, 189,000 visits made by patients ages 12 to 20 to the ED involved alcohol, according to the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's recently released DAWN report.

Seventy percent of those alcohol-related ED visits involved alcohol only, and 30 percent involved alcohol mixed with other drugs.

Marijuana (58 percent) was the most common drug involved in those visits where alcohol and another drug were taken. Anti-anxiety drugs (18 percent), narcotic pain relievers (15 percent), and cocaine (13 percent) were less common.

Males were the most typical ED patients for underage drinking. They make up slightly more than half (54 percent) among patients ages 12 to 17. The share rises to 62 percent for patients ages 18 to 20.

"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, SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, said in a statement.

To learn more:
- read the report
- here's the press release