Binge Drinking Problem Among Teens

CB106470The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines binge drinking as “consuming 5 or more drink in 2 hours for men and consuming 4 or more drinks in 2 hours for women.” CDC’s research about teens and binge drinking in America demonstrates that:

  • One in five high school seniors (20%) reports binge drinking in the last two weeks, and one in ten reports “extreme” binge drinking – having 10 or more drinks on one occasion, according to a new study. And, they’re hitting hard liquor.
  • Eighty–five percent of drinking and driving episodes were reported by people who also reported binge drinking.
  • The death toll from binge drinking is just shy of 88,000 per year.
  • One in five high school girls (20%) binge drink, which is almost as high as their male peers. About 62% of high school senior girls said they engaged in binge drinking in 2011.
  • Teens don’t drink alcohol to relax or enjoy a light buzz. They gulp it down with the intent to get drunk. They want the “high” of being intoxicated.


Risks of Binge Drinking

Teens who decide to drink excessively are only thinking about getting drunk. They want a “high” or to feel uninhibited or to escape from life. Parents need to talk about the negative aspects of drinking. Teens are not generally considering how hung-over they will feel the next morning or that they will likely throw up. Binge drinking carries more serious and longer-lasting risks as well:

Alcohol Poisoning. Alcohol poisoning is the most life-threatening consequence of binge drinking. Drinking too much can literally kill a person. Signs of alcohol poisoning include:

  • extreme confusion
  • inability to be awakened
  • vomiting
  • seizures
  • slow or irregular breathing
  • low body temperature
  • bluish or pale skin

Impaired Judgment. Binge drinking impairs judgment, so drinkers are more likely to take risks they might not take when they’re sober. They may have unprotected sex, take other drugs, drive drunk, or even take physical risks that can lead to injury.

Physical Health. Research suggests that people who binge-drink throughout high school are more likely to be overweight and have high blood pressure by the time they are 24.

Mental Health. Studies show that binge drinkers have more difficulty performing in school, maintaining friendships, and concentrating. Alcohol can: disrupt sleep patterns; alter study habits; and affect personality, making people moody.

Alcoholism. Research shows that people who binge-drink three or more times in a two-week period already have many of the symptoms of alcoholism, and are more likely to become an alcoholic.

Final thoughts…

Alcohol is just one of many drugs from which parents need to protect their children. The best way to raise a drug-free teen is:

  • Tell your child why you want them to remain drug-free. Inform your child of the risks associated with all drug use – illegal, prescription and over-the-counter. This type of conversation should begin when your child enters middle school and continue throughout their middle and high school years.
  • Keep lines of communication open. Nurture a relationship in which teens feel safe talking about anything that is bothering them. Many families find eating meals together to be helpful in engaging their teens in conversation.
  • Role model good behavior for your child. Do not drink alcohol in excess, use a drug for casual or non-medical use, or share prescriptions with family or friends. Use exercise or other stress management techniques to cope with life’s problems.
  • Be actively involved in your teen’s life by attending their events, getting to know their friends, visiting their school, and finding activities to do together.
  • Keep teens busy with positive activities. Children who have a passion or are meaningfully engaged in sports, academic or social activities are less prone to get involved with drug use. Encourage them to make friends with teens who share their values.

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