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Underage Drinking Sends More Teens to Hospital on Fourth of July

Underage drinking during the Fourth of July Holiday weekend sent  more teens to hospital emergency department, according to a government report released on July 1.

The study of data collected in 2008 by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found daily hospital emergency department visits due to underage drinking nearly doubled during the holiday weekend compared to that on any average day in July.

Underage drinking during the Fourth of July weekend sent 87 percent more teenagers on days of the Fourth of July weekend to hospital than on any other average day in July.

The daily hospital emergency department visits for the three day Fourth of July weekend were 938 compared to 502 on an average day in July.

"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," said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D. 

"Parents are a leading influence in their children’s decision to avoid alcohol," Hyde added.

The legal drinking age in the United States is 21.  Prior to the effective date of the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984, the legal drinking age varies from state to state.

Drinking is harmful. The National Toxicology Program has classified alcoholic beverages as cancer-causing agents.

Jimmy Downs