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Alcohol intoxication at a university hospital acute medicine unit—with special consideration of young adults: an 8-year observational study from Switzerland


Background Many media reports suggest an increase in alcohol intoxication, particularly among young people. Indeed, several surveys on young people have confirmed this fact. These were based on self-declaration of alcohol consumption. However, there are few clinical data that show an increase in alcohol intoxication in hospitals. The aim of this study was to evaluate the number of alcohol intoxications in relation to the total number of patients and to look for a statistical trend.

Methods Using their electronic database, the authors identified all patients with alcohol intoxication who were treated in the acute medical wing of our ED in the years 2000–2007. In the group aged 16–25 years, the authors searched for combined intoxication.

Results The authors found a significant increase in alcohol intoxication in all age groups and also in young people aged below 25 years. There were more intoxicated males than females (male to female ratio 1.5:1). The age distribution of our intoxicated patients showed a peak at 35–45 years of age and repeated admissions were frequent in this age class. Drugs consumed together with alcohol in the age group 16–25 were mostly cannabis and cocaine.

Conclusion Episodic drinking is not only a problem in the 16–25 age group, it also concerns men of 35–45 years. This is a major public health problem in industrialised countries. Intoxicated patients are at acute risk of injuries and violence following alcohol abuse. Preventive measures should not only be limited to younger adults.

  • Emergency care systems
  • EDs
  • mental health
  • self harm
  • mental health
  • overdose
  • toxicology
  • violence
  • alcohol
  • drug
  • emergency
  • intoxication
  • party

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