Teenage Binge Drinking

Medically Reviewed By Kayla Loibl | Last Edited:  August 24 ,
| 4 Sources

There is little decline in teenage binge drinking, although statistics show that drinking by teens in general is on the decline.

Underage binge drinking is still a huge problem. In fact, 90% of the alcohol consumed by teens is consumed in the form of binge drinking. Not only is it still quite prevalent, it’s very dangerous.

Teenage binge drinking can easily cause alcohol poisoning, a serious condition that occurs when blood alcohol concentration becomes elevated too high.

The body can only eliminate alcohol from the system so fast, and when large amounts of alcohol are consumed in rapid succession (generally five drinks for men, four drinks for women), the body cannot cope. That’s when alcohol poisoning can occur.

Causes of Binge Drinking in Teens

It is difficult to pinpoint the cause of teenage binge drinking. One theory suggests that teens may do it for many reasons including:

  • To escape or mask emotional pain. to escape from social problems such as bullying at school, lack of friends, an embarrassment in front of peers, etc. to fight feelings of low self-esteem and depression.
  • To rebel against parents' values and expectations, which can cause friction in the family dynamic.
  • Enjoyment's sake - it tastes good! The fact that their parents partake in alcohol consumption might also influence them to drink too much because they want to fit in with their older counterparts. 
  • Peer pressure certainly plays a huge factor too; if you're not doing it then your friends are probably guilting you into doing it.

Often, teens will engage in binge drinking during parties and social gatherings such as sporting events, concerts, etc. It may also happen when a teen is feeling particularly down or aggressive because of their environment or the friends they surround themselves with throughout the day.

Binge Drinking Statistics

According to a recent study by the National Institutes on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), 90% of alcohol consumed by those who are underage is done through binge drinking which results in 4 out of 5 college students engaging in this dangerous activity at least once per month

In addition to that, 1/3 of men and ½ of women who reported consuming five or more drinks within about two hours were under 21, meaning they really shouldn't have been drinking at all.

Consequences of Underage Binge Drinking

The consequences of teenage binge drinking are serious. Consider the following:

  • Each year, more than 5000 deaths of teens are linked to drinking.
  • In 2003, 31% of teen drivers who died in car accidents had been drinking.
  • The three leading causes of death for teens are car accidents, homicides, and suicides, and alcohol is a leading factor in all three.
  • An early onset age of drinking is associated with alcohol-related violence.
  • Statistics show that 35% of adults with alcohol dependency developed symptoms by age 19.

While not all of the above are related to binge drinking, many are. Remember, the majority of teens who drink engage in binge drinking.

In addition to the consequences listed above, there are numerous health risks associated with binge drinking.

These include short-term problems, such as:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fainting
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Death may also occur

Long-term health problems may also result, including:

  • Stomach ulcers
  • Liver problems
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Neurological damage

Mixing alcohol with other drugs, even some over the counter medications like Tylenol, increases the danger of developing certain health problems.

Teens are at particular risk when drinking with their friends, because they know underage binge drinking is illegal. If they begin to show signs of alcohol poisoning, their friends are often reluctant to seek emergency medical care for them because they don’t want to “get in trouble” for drinking.


Educating Teens About the Risks of Binge Drinking

Many teens do not realize how dangerous teenage binge drinking is. They think they are not alcoholics because they do not drink everyday, so they feel occasional binge drinking is OK. Also, since their parents often drink, they believe drinking alcohol is all right. They need to be educated about the risks.

Providing teens with a list of dry statistics does not go far in terms of preventing underage binge drinking. Teens do not believe the statistics apply to them. Teens tend to believe they are invincible.

Therefore teens need to hear about real-life examples of teens who have suffered consequences of binge drinking. Meeting real teens who have suffered consequences from binge drinking is particularly effective.

Teens also need to learn about alternatives to teenage binge drinking. They need to have other outlets for entertainment and alcohol-free parties.

The fact is, many teens feel alcohol is too readily available and welcome alcohol-free parties. Teaching them how to plan such events can go a long way toward preventing underage binge drinking.

In additions, teens need to be armed with ways to say no when their peers encourage them to drink. Educational programs can include role play sessions in which teens can practice turning down drinks.

These kinds of programs can create a kind of “positive peer pressure” in which teens can encourage each other not to drink.

Help Stop Alcohol Abuse Today!

If your child or someone you know is engaging in any type of binge drinking whether on occasion or every single weekend then you should address the issue right away with them; many people make the mistake of thinking that alcohol poisoning is drunkenness and therefore not anything to really worry about - this couldn't be further from the truth.

Not only is it physically dangerous but it can also cause damage to their social life, studies suggest that if they binge drink through high school and college then they will most likely not become successful adults - so, all in all, it is much better to avoid this at all costs.

Whether you are the friend or relative of somebody who drinks too much alcohol at one time I urge you to take action today - do whatever it takes to get through to them; they need help!

If their behaviour continues, you can seek professional help quickly before things get out of control; there are many ways that alcohol abuse can spiral out of control and end up causing major issues in somebody's life including death - this is something nobody wants for themselves let alone somebody else. So please contact a treatment provider today.

Lead Writer/Reviewer : Kayla Loibl

Licensed Medical Health Professional 

I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LPC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. Read More

More about teenage binge drinking on our binge drinking statistics page

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