The site for substance use disorder prevention and mental health promotion professionals and volunteers.

Home » Vodka, Malt Liquor Most Likely to Buy Trip to Emergency Room

Vodka, Malt Liquor Most Likely to Buy Trip to Emergency Room

By Emily P. Walker

Vodka and malt beverages were the forms of alcohol most likely to have been consumed by patients who wound up at the emergency department seeking treatment for an injury, according to a small study.  In addition, more men than women presented to hospital emergency departments with injuries after drinking (69% versus 31%), according to the study presented at the American Public Health Association's annual meeting.

Men were also more likely than women to report drinking beer. However, women were more likely to have consumed spirits, wine, champagne, or flavored malt beverages, said lead author David Jernigan, PhD, of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Nearly a third of injury-related visits to emergency departments are alcohol-related, said Jernigan, who is director of the institution's Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth.

Jernigan and colleagues wanted to monitor which types of alcoholic beverages were most commonly consumed by people who sought emergency room after sustaining injuries. The conventional wisdom is that it's too cumbersome to collect that kind of data given that there are 900 brands of alcohol on the market, he said.

Jernigan's research assistants camped out an inner-city Baltimore hospital at least one weekend night a week for the better part of a year. They recruited 105 injury victims who had been drinking within the previous six hours.

Vodka was by far the most common liquor to have been consumed by those surveyed, which wasn't surprising, Jernigan said, because vodka makes up more than 90% of the spirits market.

In a distant second and third were brandy/cognac and gin, which both make up a tiny share of the spirits market, but together were responsible for 20% of the total injury visits to the emergency room.

Malt beverages were consumed by about 27% of the injury patients who had been drinking.

"These data can point attention to specific beverages and beverages types that are disproportionately problematic within a population," Jernigan said. He added that the data can help lawmakers determine which beverages to tax at a higher rate in order to curb their use. Another possibility would be to implement bans on widely consumed beverages that lead to higher alcohol-related injury rates and hospitalization, such as malt liquor, he said.

Samantha Cukier, MBA, and colleagues conducted a literature review and found that secondhand effects of drinking alcohol were widespread, ranging from an intoxicated person pushing another person to causing a serious car accident.

Data from a 2009 study found that six in 10 people in the U.S. said they have been harmed in some way by another person's drinking, Cukier reported. A 2010 Canadian study found that the most common "secondhand effect" of drinking was a person reporting being insulted or embarrassed by someone who had been drinking, followed by getting in a serious argument, being verbally abused, and being pushed or shoved.