A Closer Look: Binge Drinking Among Teenagers and Young Adults

For teenagers and young adults, it can be difficult to fit in with a group. In past years and in today’s society alcohol is often included in social activities for young people. While many teens believe this is just the cultural norm, the consequences can be very serious.

Mindy Miller, Fairbanks Adolescent Inpatient Counselor, said that drinking at an early age can be detrimental to the development of a person.

“The last part of your brain to develop is your cognitive thinking – your judgment,” Miller said. “Drinking before that fully develops can lead to devastating aftereffects.”

Research shows that teenage binge drinking can be harmful to the brain and liver. It also affects one’s abilities to make sound decisions. People who participate in binge drinking are more likely to have an unplanned pregnancy, spread sexually transmitted diseases, have alcohol dependency and get in vehicle accidents.

Miller said that young adults today aren’t seeing binge drinking as a danger.

“Excessive drinking is happening with young adults mostly over the weekend at parties or at friends’ homes,” Miller said. “A lot of them are drinking large amounts of alcohol like 15 shots or cases of beer by themselves.”

The pressure of being accepted can also play a major role in binge drinking.

“Young people are absolutely doing this to fit in and be more social, especially if they see their friends doing it,” Miller said. “They are at ages where they are still figuring out who they are and trying to build those social relationships.”

According to Miller, the person’s personality also matters when it comes to making these social decisions. Often, people with social anxiety turn to alcohol as a means to be more relaxed.

Alcohol abuse is commonly reported among the adolescent population that seeks treatment at Fairbanks.

“In my eight years working at Fairbanks, I’ve seen other drugs trend, but alcohol has always been a problem with adolescents,” Miller said.

The experts at Fairbanks say that parental involvement is key in helping to prevent teens and young adults from binge drinking.

“Parents or guardians should communicate with other parents, know where their teens are and have them check in with them when they return from parties,” Miller said. “Also take the time to meet their friends and really be involved in their lives. Some parents minimize these behaviors, but there could be more going on than you think.”

If you think your teen might be struggling with alcohol, call 855-518-2501 to speak confidentially with an adolescent specialist or visit www.fairbankscd.org/teens.

Research:

http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/BingeDrinking/

http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa68/aa68.htm