The 2008 Drug Awareness Warning Network estimates that on an average day, there were 519 hospital emergency department visits involving underage alcohol use. For the 3-day Memorial Day weekend, however, the number of daily ED visits jumped to 577, an increase of 11 percent.
"Underage drinking poses an enormous public health risk -- approximately 5,000 people die each year from alcohol-related injuries connected to underage drinking . . . Moreover, studies have shown that children who begin drinking before age 15 are six times more likely to develop alcohol problems than people who start drinking after they reach age 21," says Pamela S. Hyde, J.D., the Administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.