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5 Things Parents Need to Know About Binge Drinking

February 3, 2017

5 Things Parents Need to Know About Binge Drinking

Teen alcohol consumption has been a concern of parents for decades, and regardless of the approach you take to adult beverages in your home, your teen could be at risk for gulping liquor at parties or with friends. An action that originally stems from curiosity and peer pressure can quickly result in dire consequences, including health and legal concerns, for your teen. Binge drinking on its own can lead to alcohol poisoning, and regular binging can cause teen alcohol addiction. Here are five things parents should know about teen binge drinking.

First-time binge drinking could stem from curiosity

The most oft-cited reason for teen binge drinking is peer pressure — teens see their friends, celebrities, television and movie characters, and even adults they trust imbibing, so they eventually give in to this pressure too. Many parents feel secure in their teen’s sobriety because they regularly discuss peer pressure and ensure their teen hangs out with a “good crowd.”

Even teenagers who normally make smart decisions might eventually give in to curiosity, though, and try alcohol. Because teens aren’t experienced with drinking — and aren’t typically known for moderation — experimentation can quickly lead to a binge. Parents can help reduce the likelihood of curiosity-based binging by being open and honest about alcohol with their teens and removing the mystery of the substance.

Alcohol poisoning can be deadly

Alcohol poisoning isn’t selective, and it can strike the first time someone drinks too much. Alcohol poisoning impacts the body’s involuntary reflexes, sometimes interfering with functions we regularly take for granted, including the gag reflex and breathing. That means someone who is experiencing alcohol poisoning could choke to death or experience a fatal lack oxygen. Signs of alcohol poisoning include:

  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Irregular breathing
  • Blue or pale skin
  • Lower-than-normal body temperature

Talk to your teen about alcohol poisoning so they understand the immediate consequences that can come from binge drinking. Since adults can’t keep watch over teens 24-hours a day, making sure your teenagers are aware of the symptoms of alcohol poisoning can help ensure they call 911 if they or their friends are ever experiencing such issues.

Teen binge drinking can have generational consequences

The consequences of teen binge drinking can be far reaching. In addition to immediate health concerns, teens might find themselves in legal trouble if they are caught drinking underage. Continued use of alcohol can lead to poor performance in social, work, academic or sports situations, which can all have a long-term impact for teens. What many people don’t realize is that the consequences of teen binging can span generations.

Researchers at Loyola University note that binge drinking during adolescent years can have an impact on future generations. Specifically, a study concluded that teen binge drinking can increase the risk for mental health — including anxiety and depression — and metabolic disorders in offspring.

Around 13 percent of youth report recent binge drinking

While as many as half of all teens report binge drinking at some point in their lives, approximately 13 percent say they binged in the last month. That statistic, which comes from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, covers young people age 12 to 20.

Parents usually aren’t surprised when older high schoolers and college-aged teens engage in some experimental drinking, but they might be shocked to realize that binge drinking can begin in middle school. Some parents might not even start broaching subjects such as alcohol and drugs until teens are older, but by then it might be too late.

When high schoolers drink, they are likely to binge

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, teens aren’t likely to sip on wine or enjoy a single beer with friends like adults might. American teens are more likely to gulp, says the CDC, which reports that 90 percent of high schools students say they binge drink when they do consume alcohol.

Binging is often part of the risk-taking activity that occurs during the time between childhood and adulthood, and teens don’t even always see it as a negative activity. Teens who binge often don’t drink regularly, so they don’t see their drinking as a problem that might need to be addressed.

What can parents do?

As teens grow, you can’t be with them all the time or make all their decisions for them. As a parent or adult figure in a teens life, you can be open about alcohol and other issues, communicate regularly and try to set good examples. If you do suspect your teen is struggling with alcohol use, don’t be afraid to reach out for help or advice from professionals. If you have questions about getting help for your teenager please call (844)319-5239 today. 

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