Underage Drinking — A Huge Cost
Hospital trips for intoxicated youth cost $755 million annually.
By EGPNews Staff Report
Underage drinking and its resulting injuries rack up over $750 million annually in medical costs, a Mayo Clinic study reports. The findings, published online in the Journal of Adolescent Health, looked at youths age 15-20.
Of the estimated $755 million in alcohol-related hospital visits involving adolescents each year, $505 million goes to the treatment of injuries, though less than a quarter of youths hospitalized are treated for wounds stemming from alcohol consumption.
“When teenagers drink, they tend to drink excessively, leading to many destructive consequences, including motor vehicle accidents, injuries, homicides and suicides,” says researcher Terry Schneekloth, M.D., a Mayo Clinic addiction expert and psychiatrist.
Most injuries reported in the study were due to traffic accidents, assaults and altercations.
Roughly 40,000 youths were hospitalized in 2008, the most recent data available. According to researchers, 79 percent of them were drunk when they arrived at the hospital. Alcohol abuse, addiction and drinking-related emotional problems were among the most common diagnoses given.
According to the study, roughly 18 of every 10,000 adolescent males and 12 of every 10,000 females are hospitalized after consuming alcohol.
In 2008, 107 underage drinkers died in the hospital. Nearly three quarters of the deaths were attributed to injuries sustained while under the influence.
The United States is no stranger to underage drinking, with 36–71 percent of all high-school students admitting to having consumed alcohol at least once. The prevalence of heavy drinking, defined by the Mayo Clinic as more than five drinks in a row within the preceding two weeks, is lower, varying from 7–23 percent. And for those with alcohol-related medical discharges, the average age was 18. Sixty-one percent were male.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the study’s findings may help target substance abuse prevention efforts for groups at greatest risk.
“Alcohol use necessitating acute-care hospitalization represents one of the most serious consequences of underage drinking,” Dr. Schneekloth says. “Harmful alcohol use in adolescence is a harbinger of alcohol abuse in adulthood.”
Hospitalization rates were highest in the Northeast and Midwest, lowest in the South, and intermediate in the West. On average, black Americans were hospitalized less than whites, with Hispanics and Asian/Pacific Islanders having the lowest rates. Rates tended to be highest for Native and mixed-race Americans, researchers said.Print This Post
March 22, 2012 Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.