Characteristics of Adolescents With Acute Alcohol Intoxication: Role of Population Density

Joris J. van Hoof, Claire J. Schreurs & Nico van der Lely (2018) Characteristics of Adolescents With Acute Alcohol Intoxication: Role of Population Density, Journal of Child & Adolescent Substance Abuse, DOI: 10.1080/1067828X.2018.1481480


The aim of this study was to investigate the possible differences between adolescents with an acute alcohol intoxication living in high- and low-population-density areas. Data were used from the Dutch Pediatric Surveillance System, which monitors acute alcohol intoxication among treated adolescents. During treatment, questionnaires are completed by the pediatricians involved, covering socio-demographic characteristics and circumstantial and treatment data. Adolescents eligible for inclusion in the current study had to be under the age of 18 years and have a positive blood alcohol concentration, and the living region was known. This resulted in analyzing data from the years 2007 until 2015, with a total of 4,895 questionnaires. This study shows that treated adolescents who are living in a high-population-density area are significantly younger (15.3 versus 15.5 years) and have a lower blood alcohol concentration at admittance (1.86 versus 1.90 g/l). The patients in the high-population-density areas are less from an autochthonous Dutch origin (86.0% versus 90.7%) and are more often enrolled in a higher educational level (45.4% versus 38.1%). Adolescents in urban areas drink more on the streets (27.7% versus 16.3%), in contrast to those living in a lower-population-density area, who drink in a bar or comparable place. Adolescents living is urban areas are overrepresented in the intoxication sample. This article is the first to describe the differences between alcohol-intoxicated adolescents in high- and low-population-density areas in the Netherlands. These findings are important for the awareness of alcohol abusers, and the design of future prevention strategies.

  • Key messages
  • Demographic, drinking, and intoxication characteristics during alcohol intoxication treatment differ for youngsters coming from high- and low-population-density areas.

  • Youngsters from low-population areas turn out to be older, lower educated, more often Dutch, and drink more in bars, than their counterparts from high-population-density areas.

  • Youngsters from lower density areas have higher blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels, and more often have parental approval to drink. Hospitalization periods are equal for both groups.