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Alcohol-related Emergency Department Visits Among Adolescents and Young Adults in Sherbrooke, Canada

Paradis, Catherine PhD1; Cyr, Louis-Olivier2; Cyr, Claude MD, MSc3

Canadian Journal of Addiction: December 2018 - Volume 9 - Issue 4 - p 25–31
doi: 10.1097/CXA.0000000000000033

Objective: To describe alcohol-related emergency department (ED) consultations by adolescents and young adults, including severe alcohol intoxication.

Method(s): This retrospective study was done in the 2 EDs of Sherbrooke (Quebec). All alcohol-related emergency visits among adolescent (12–17 years of age) and young adults (18–24 years of age) between January 1, 2012 and January 1, 2017 were described. Data include demographic information, the immediate drinking context leading to the ED consultation, means of transport, coingestion of other substances, laboratory data, clinical outcomes, and the type of counseling and follow-up services being offered.

Results: On a total of 855 consultations, 56% were males. The median age was 20. Beverages with high alcohol content were consumed in 75% of cases. An altered level of consciousness was described in 68% of cases and 23% of patients had a condition presenting a potential threat to life. A majority of cases (57%) presented with at least 1 medical complication associated with alcohol intoxication. Only 29% had consumed a concurrent substance. The average blood alcohol concentration was 209 mg/dL. Half of patients were alone at the ED and only 52% were offered counseling and 40% a follow-up.

Conclusions: Youth alcohol intoxication happens too often and is a serious medical emergency. Alcohol-related ED consultations are an opportunity for health professionals to intervene with youth. Young people need to be aware that beverages with high alcohol content can be extremely dangerous and alcohol regulations should be revised to restrict access to these products.

1Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

2Faculté de médecine et des sciences de la santé, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada

3Département de pédiatrie, Faculté de médecine et des sciences de la santé, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada

Corresponding Author: Catherine Paradis, PhD, Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, 75 Albert Street, Suite 500, Ottawa, ON, Canada K1P 5E7. Tel: +1 613 235 4048; fax: +1 613 235 8101; E-mail:

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

© 2018 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.
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