The dangers of binge drinking for teens
Ben and Scott, best friends since first grade, did everything together — playing high school sports, jamming in their garage band, hanging out — and drinking. But when Ben saw Scott pound five beers in 30 minutes and pass out at a high school graduation party, he didn't know what to do to help his friend.
The heavy consumption of alcohol over a short period of time is known as binge drinking. In the United States, the consumption of five or more drinks in a row by males — or four or more drinks in a row by females — constitutes binge drinking. Extreme binge drinking could include 10 or more drinks in a row on one occasion.
A recent national study shows that 1 in 5 high school seniors report binge drinking in the past two weeks and 1 in 10 admit to extreme binge drinking.
A teenager's brain is still in its development stages, making it very sensitive to the effects of alcohol. Signs that your teen may be using alcohol include:
- Declining school grades or lack of interest in extra-curricular activities
- Hanging out with a new group of friends
- Poor judgment and decision-making skills
- Saying and doing things he or she later regrets
- Not remembering recent activities
- Loss of balance and slurred speech
Too much alcohol consumption can also lead to passing out, during which reflexes such as gagging and breathing may be suppressed. Alcohol poisoning, a very dangerous condition, may also occur.
Help for parents
Numerous studies have shown that parents have the most influence over their teen's decision to drink.
If you feel your teen is abusing alcohol or drugs, there is help:
- Our Health Encyclopedia: Dealing With Teen Substance Abuse and Making a Contract With Your Teen
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov/alcohol
- National Drug and Alcohol Treatment Referral Routing Service, 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, www.niaaa.nih.gov