New Year's is the most dangerous holiday for underage drinkers, according to a report released Thursday by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Across the nation, an estimated 1,980 youths were admitted to hospital emergency departments on New Year's Day 2009 for the consequences of drinking, such as car crashes, falls, fights and alcohol poisoning. That's nearly four times the daily average for underage-drinking admissions. And as holidays go, New Year's easily outstrips its closest competitor for underage drinking, the Fourth of July weekend, which saw 942 such hospitalizations in 2009. Florida-specific numbers were not available.
This is the first time the agency has compiled this report, so officials couldn't say whether underage drinking rates have changed over time.
"This very troubling finding is in line with what we already know about the increase in alcohol-related problems during the winter holidays," said Kenneth R. Warren, acting director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, in a news release. "For example, during Christmas and New Year's, two to three times more people die in alcohol-related crashes than during comparable periods the rest of the year."