It appears not all birthdays are happy in Canada. The journal Addiction published a study last month which reveals a sad habit among young people in Ontario: binge drinking on one’s birthday, sometimes serious enough to land celebrants in the hospital.
The study employed a simple methodology: using records for people aged 12 to 30 in Ontario, researchers compiled a list of people who were hospitalized for alcohol issues, and cross-referenced the hospitalizations with the patients’ birthdays.
As they had predicted, admissions to hospital due to alcohol-related causes spiked on birthday weeks, with the most prominent rise occurring on the day that patients reached their 19th birthday – the legal drinking age in Canada. Admissions remained higher than average for people’s 20th, 21st and 22nd birthdays, and tapered off after that.
The alcohol-related incidents that led to hospitalization in the study were all related to binge drinking. Though other causes were not studied, it’s likely that drunk driving injuries and injuries stemming from fighting would be higher as well.
The Ontario study merely confirms what has been noted before in the USA – birthday binge drinking is far from uncommon. The study concludes by recommending “event-specific prevention.” That means talking to your teen not just on their 19th birthday, but on subsequent birthdays as well, to make them understand that you can have a good time without consuming a lethal amount of alcohol. Parental intervention is the best way to prevent dangerous over-drinking, ensuring that your son or daughter will enjoy many birthdays to come.