Is binge drinking among teenagers out of control?

September 24, 2013

More than one-third of all high school seniors report binge drinking at a level of 5 to 15 or more alcoholic drinks in a single sitting at some point during the previous 2 weeks.

 

More than one-third of all high school seniors report binge drinking at a level of 5 to 15 or more alcoholic drinks in a single sitting at some point during the previous 2 weeks.

The finding comes from a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan and Pennsylvania State University.

Binge drinking is traditionally defined as having 5 or more alcoholic drinks in a row.

What the researchers found is that one-fifth (20.2%) of high school seniors reported binging on 5 or more drinks at some time during the past 2 weeks. Another 10.5% admitted to binging on 10 or more drinks, and 5.6% confessed to extreme binging, the imbibing of 15 or more drinks.

The investigators looked at a nonclinical, nationally representative sample of just over 16,000 high school seniors who participated in the annual Monitoring the Future study between 2005 and 2011. The study, conducted by the University of Michigan and funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a division of the National Institutes of Health, is an ongoing look at the behaviors, attitudes, and values of America’s secondary school students.

The researchers say that although rates of 5 or more and 10 or more drinks consumed at one sitting have declined since 2005, rates of 15 or more drinks consumed have held more or less steady.

The investigators were able to identify a few predictors of extreme binge drinking. For example, students of college-educated parents were more likely to fall into the 5 or more category and less likely to fall into the 15 or more category than students with parents lacking college degrees. Male students and those from the Midwest and rural areas were more likely than female students and big city kids to report consuming 15 drinks or more.

The researchers explain that the study is an important one because various reports say binge drinking among teenagers is declining, yet the number of medical emergencies involving teenaged alcohol use is not. 

 

 

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