Weekends are usually treasured by most teens, as they are looking forward to their big plans. Some may be chilling with friends, catching a movie, going to a concert, or planning to party. Regardless of what they have planned, one thing is for certain; alcohol will be a part of many teens’ weekend plans and there's research to prove it. Yes, one of the most widely available drugs on the market, alcohol, is making headline news again as the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) releases a report that one in five high school girls engage in binge drinking. According to this study, binge drinking is defined as a female consuming 4 or more drinks on a single occasion (for males binge drinking is consuming 5 or more drinks in one sitting.) We’ve known for a while that binge drinking is a problem with today’s youth, especially boys (who still report more binge drinking than girls) but 20% of teen girls - that’s cause for alarm! Here is something else to consider: binge drinking has declined among boys for the past 10 years, yet has remained unchanged for girls over the past 15 years. Here is the breakdown of girls by year level who admitted to binge drinking: * Year 9 - 45%
* Year 10 - 50%
* Year 11 - 58%
* Year 12 - 62%
Binge drinking is scary business. That powerful liquid has the ability to transform a life and I don't mean in a good way. Intoxication can wreck havoc on a person's life and change it permanently, if not fatally. Alcohol impairs judgment causing the person to do and say things that he or she will later regret. Oftentimes the person doesn't even remember what was said or done in his or her drunken stupor, but others do. Which brings up a good question, "Why are teens binging?" Why are teens binging?
The CDC study confirms that teens aren't sipping alcohol --- no, they’re gulping it. This study brings light to the fact that high school students tend to binge drink whenever they consume alcohol. About ninety percent of the alcohol consumed by high school students is consumed through binging. WOW! So, why are teens engaging in this dangerous and potentially life altering behaviour? As children move from adolescence to young adulthood, they face major changes not just develop mentally, but emotional and physically. The transition into puberty and adolescence brings about a desire for independence. Many teens turn to risk taking and experimentation as they navigate through their rite of passage into adulthood, which can lead to drinking. Many teens don't think there's anything wrong with drinking. They've made it into an acceptable activity that they engage in when they're out with their friends, and since they may not drink every night, they don't see the potential harm that it's doing. You see, developmentally teens remain in that imaginary stage that "bad stuff can't happen to me because I am invincible." But we know it does... Plus, many teens don't have the ability to see the long-term consequences that drinking can bring. So, what's the big deal of downing 4 or 5 drinks, right? Wrong! Binge drinking is actually extremely dangerous because consuming large amounts of liquid toxin at one time can lead to alcohol poisoning, rape, STDs, coma and the worst case scenario, death... There are many factors that lead to teen drinking. If you ask a teen why they drink you may give you a litany of reasons from: "I was bored."
"Everyone else does it."
"I like how it makes me feel."
"People like me when I drink because I act different."
"I just wanted to see what it would make me feel like."
"My parents do it so it must not be a big deal."
"It helps me escape reality."
Regardless of the reason, teens who drink will tell you that alcohol is readily available and easy to get their hands on. Whether it's sitting wide open in their parent's liquor cabinet or at a friend's house most teens can find it without much effort. Which leads to the real concern: lack of supervision. Alcohol is an easily available drug that is widely promoted throughout society. Teens engaging in the dangerous behaviour of binge drinking are not only putting themselves at risk, they're putting others in jeopardy. Drunk driving accidents, homicides, suicides and other injuries have been attributed to alcohol use. Also, teens who begin drinking at an early age have an increased chance of developing an alcohol dependency. It is crucial that we begin educating our youth about the dangers of alcohol and promoting preventative measures to ensure they understand the serious consequences of alcohol use. Hopefully, if we all join forces we won't see the alarming statistics that were revealed in the CDC study.