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.
The consequences of teenage binge drinking are serious. Consider the following:
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:
Long-term health problems may also result, including:
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.
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.