June 30, 2011— -- The Fourth of July is one of the worst days of the year for teenage boys to drink -- and get hurt.
A new study from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or SAMHSA, found that underage males visit the emergency room twice as much during Fourth of July weekend than the rest of the month.
"This is a high-risk period for them," said Dr. Pete Delaney, director of the Center for Behavioral Statistics and Quality at SAMHSA. "The statistics were pretty striking for the holiday weekend period."
Researchers analyzed national government statistics from 2009, and found that American ERs saw a daily average of 942 visits related to underage drinking throughout the holiday weekend of July 3-5 2009. Two-thirds of those visits were made by boys.
Delaney said the visits were mostly due to alcohol poisoning, drunk driving accidents and physical fights.
Teen Boys Double Visits to ER During Fourth of July
Drinking-centric New Year's Eve takes the cake as the holiday with the most booze-related visits to emergency rooms in people under 21. Data showed that ERs saw an average of nearly 2,000 underage alcohol-induced visits on Jan. 1, 2009.
"We believe parents should be talking to their kids about expectations with drinking," continued Delaney. "Helping children stay safe around drugs and alcohol should be like booster sessions; it's not just a one-time thing. Parents need to play a continuing role and set expectations."
Emergency rooms did not see a spike in underage girls during the Independence Day weekend, but this could be due to social norms, experts said.
"The social reality is that most girls are probably not drinking as heavily as boys, and they're probably not getting into fights or even driving as much as boys," said Delaney.
Experts say parents are critical in improving these statistics, but "they're only one piece of the puzzle," said Delaney. "It involves parents, teachers, clergy and community leaders to improve the health of kids and consequences of underage drinking. It only takes one time for a child to end up in the ER. And that can be devastating."
For tips on how to talk to your kids about underage drinking, check out the agency's prevention resource page. Visit http://www.stopalcoholabuse.gov to learn more.