The Fourth of July weekend is not just about celebrations, flags and fireworks but also a lethal mix of youth and alcohol, with an uptick in emergency room (ER) visits by underage boozy patients.
Statistics from a recent study reveal that Fourth of July is one holiday so alcohol infused that ER visits involving alcohol poisoning, injuries and drunken mishaps doubles.
Gail D'Onofrio, chief of the emergency room at Yale-New Haven, stated, "On St. Patrick's Day, we see more assaults as a result of alcohol; on the Fourth of July, we see firecracker and fireworks injuries -- people blowing a hand off because they chose to drink or take some other mind-altering substance and at the same time play with fireworks.
"You can be assured that for these fireworks injuries, half of them are related to alcohol consumption. We see a preponderance of injuries to young adults ... because of fireworks and drinking."
She added, "These are not accidents. They are preventable. Everything we see this weekend related to drinking is preventable."
Statistics of underage drinking in 2008 revealed, that compared to an average day in July, when emergency room visits involving alcohol abuse across the US was 502, the number of daily visits during the Fourth of July weekend surged to 938 – an increase of 87percent.
Analysis of data from DAWN
A study by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) analyzed data provided by Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), a public health information system, which monitors drug-related hospital emergency department visits in the United States.
Statistics of underage drinking in 2008 revealed that compared to an average day in July, when emergency room visits involving alcohol abuse across the US was 502, the number of daily visits during the Fourth of July weekend surged to 938 – an increase of 87percent.
According to doctors, the holiday celebration with explosives and binge drinking makes for a very busy day at the ER.
SAMHSA Administrator Pamela Hyde declared, "Underage drinking is not a harmless right of passage. It has far-reaching consequences.
"In addition to emergency department visits, injuries, arrests and embarrassment, 5,000 deaths in people under age 21 are linked to alcohol each year.”
Changing trends in underage drinking
Recent years have witnessed some changing trends in underage drinkers. There has been a deliberate shift away from beer and toward hard liquor, which can be eight times more potent.
In addition, there has been a spike in the number of girls who drink. Most of the young teenage girls are consuming liquor to tackle pressure and stress whereas boys drink simply to have fun.
According to reports from the Center for Marketing Alcohol and Youth, the average age of a student who indulges in alcohol is now 13 years, while nearly five thousand kids a day under 16 will have their first drink.
Moreover, drinking eventually fuels the use of marijuana and occasional drugs abuse.
Need for parental guidance
Experts believe the odds of kids getting addicted to alcohol and drugs is far less when they learn about the risks and dangers from their parents.
They feel a timely intervention by all parents and concerned adults to educate teenagers about alcohol facts, reasons not to drink and develop fun alternatives might bring a vital change in a student's life.
Hyde stated, "Parents are a leading influence in their children's decision to avoid alcohol. To help parents make the tough job of raising children a little easier, SAMHSA provides an online action plan to help parents talk with their children about expectations regarding alcohol use."