Monday, July 7, 2014

SAMHSA Sounds Alarm Over Teens' Combined Use of Alcohol, Drugs

A new report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) sheds light on a public-health concern regarding combined use of alcohol and drugs among adolescents.

SAMHSA’s Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) gathered data from hospital emergency departments nationwide to assess the association between underage drinking and serious health outcomes in people aged 12 to 20. The analysis showed that nearly 188,000 alcohol-related emergency department visits involved youth in this age group—with 20 percent of the visits resulting in serious health outcomes including death. Of the alcohol-related hospital visits that resulted in serious health outcomes, 33% were associated with underage drinking and concurrent drug use, compared with 12% which were associated with underage drinking alone.

“The 9.3 million underage drinkers across America are putting their health and futures at risk—even more so when they combine alcohol with drugs,” stated SAMHSA Administrator Pamela Hyde, J.D. “The start of summer is a good opportunity for parents and other concerned adults to talk with teens and young adults about the dangers of underage drinking and drug use.”

As part of a stepped-up education effort focused on this problem, SAMHSA has started an underage drinking prevention campaign titled “Talk. They Hear You” to help parents and other caregivers initiate a dialogue with children and teenagers on the often-serious risks they face when they drink alcohol.

Information on SAMHSA’s prevention efforts to reduce underage drinking is posted here. To read about other research on alcohol and substance use in youth, see the Psychiatric News article, “News Is Mixed on Teenagers and Substance Use.” For more on this issue, see American Psychiatric Publishing's Clinical Manual of Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment.


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