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Research Summary

The Perils of Weekend and Holiday Partying

To determine whether popular drinking occasions (e.g., holidays, weekends) are associated with an increased risk of intoxication-related deaths, researchers in Finland analyzed data from a national death registry and a drinking habits survey of 15–69 year-olds. Of the 373,000 deaths that occurred in the study population from 1987 to 2001, 28,622 (8%) were related to alcohol intoxication.

  • The risk of intoxication-related death was significantly greater on both the eve and day of holidays than on other days (mortality rate ratios* for all festivals combined between 1.7 and 2.0).
  • The risk of intoxication-related death, as well as blood alcohol concentrations and volume of alcohol consumed, was significantly greater on weekends than on weekdays (mortality rate ratios between approximately 1.1 and 1.6).
  • The risk of death from other causes was only slightly elevated on the eve and day of holidays (mortality rate ratios between 1.03 and 1.08) and not significantly different on the weekends.


Intoxication is more common on weekends and holidays. This study confirms that the risk of intoxication-related death is also greater during these times. Heavy drinking on special occasions (e.g., “just on weekends”) is not benign. These findings should be shared with people who think it is.

Rosanne T. Guerriero, MPH
Richard Saitz, MD, MPH
*Observed number of intoxication-related deaths divided by the expected number of intoxication-related deaths; the expected number was the total observed number of intoxication-related deaths during the study timeframe divided by 365.25


Mäkelä P, Martikainen P, Nihtilä E. Temporal variation in deaths related to alcohol intoxication and drinking. Int J Epidemiol. 2005;34(4):765–771.