The teenage years are often filled with risky behaviors and feelings of invincibility. These two characteristics that tend to create a sense of unease in parents of adolescents. Though these risky behaviors take a number of different forms, one of the most common is binge drinking. The National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse defines binge drinking as the consumption of five or more drinks on one occasion. The teen drinking epidemic is on the rise, with more teens checking into teen treatment every year.
Teen Drinking Epidemic
Surveys have shown that one in every six American teenagers participates in binge drinking. Teens dominate the binge drinking scene, and it is most common between the ages of 12 and 20. Studies have shown that more than half of all U.S. teens have their first alcoholic drinks before the age of 15. And, more than 70% have at least one drink before the age of 18.
The risks and consequences associated with binge drinking as a teenager are severe. As many as 5,000 deaths of Americans under 21 each year are attributed to alcohol-related car crashes. Also, homicides, suicides, alcohol poisoning, and other alcohol-related injuries often occur. But, the consequences don’t end there.
Because the brain continues development well into a person’s 20s, excessive amounts of alcohol do permanent damage to its growth. A number of health and developmental problems result from excessive underage alcohol consumption.
Though many parents know that binge drinking is a dangerous but popular activity in which adolescents sometimes engage, few know the signs of a problem. If your teen displays symptoms like slurred speech, changes in social groups, academic difficulty, memory problems, or concentration problems, he or she might have a problem with alcohol. Of course, a teen with an alcohol abuse problem needs the help and support of family, although professional rehabilitation is also important to help a loved one leave harmful habits behind.
The teen drinking epidemic is scary, but it is by no means insurmountable. Know the risks, know the signs, and know where to find help if a problem should arise.
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