A descriptive study of trauma, alcohol, and alcoholism in young adults


Young adults, 18-20 years of age, admitted to a trauma center via the emergency department, were studied to determine if they had been drinking prior to their injury event. The prevalence of self-reported chronic alcohol problems was examined using the short Michigan Alcohol Screening Test (SMAST). Of the 319 subjects, 131 (41%) tested positive for alcohol, including about onehalf of those with intentional injuries and 38% with unintentional injuries. Approximately 22% had blood alcohol concentrations of 100 mg/dL or more, indicating they were legally intoxicated at the time of their injury. Of study subjects who completed the SMAST, 49% attained scores suggesting potential or probable alcoholism, and 20% had already sought some type of treatment, despite their young age. Health-care practices and policies related to these findings include routine screening of trauma patients for alcohol abuse and integration of chemical dependency intervention services with trauma care. © 1992.

Publication Title

Journal of Adolescent Health