Teenagers aren’t of legal age to drink alcohol. Unfortunately, consuming alcohol is portrayed in the media as being cool, fun, and even thrilling. Teens believe alcohol will make them more interesting and fun to be with, freer, happier, and less scared. And they aren’t wrong. Alcohol can loosen them up and, for a short time, feel good. Unfortunately, it’s much less common for teens to be exposed to reality-based portrayals of addiction and its many harmful consequences. Binge drinking is a very common way for teens to abuse alcohol as they can quickly consume high quantities in a short period of time while they have access to it. Pennsylvania Adult & Teen Challenge (PAATC) is experienced in treating teens with alcohol use disorders (AUDs) at our alcohol rehab program in Pennsylvania.
Learn more about binge drinking in teens and how we can help teenagers struggling with alcohol addiction. PAATC offers faith-based treatment and all our therapies are evidence-based. Why not get help from people who understand teens, how addiction affects them, and what the most effective approaches are for successful recovery among this age group? Call us at 844.442.8673 or complete this online form.
Why Do Teenagers Drink?
Alcohol use in teens can start anywhere. There are as many triggers for excessive drinking among adolescents and young adults as there are for adults. Some of the reasons a teenager might abuse alcohol, including binge drinking, are:
- Relieving social anxiety (alcohol is known as the social lubricant)
- Dulling the pain of loneliness, isolation, or low self-esteem
- Succumbing to social pressure in order to feel included and accepted by a peer group
- Escaping from toxic family dynamics, including abuse, neglect, or the shattering of the family through addiction or loss
- Self-medicating the symptoms of an undiagnosed mental health disorder such as PTSD, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, OCD, and others
If you suspect a teenager you care about is engaging in binge drinking and other forms of alcohol abuse, call PAATC to find out how to have the conversation in which you broach the subject of getting help. Our number is 844.442.8673.
The Risks of Binge Drinking in Teens
Pre-gaming is what high school and college students call binging on alcohol before going out. They cannot legally access alcohol, so they acquire it illicitly and consume great quantities in a short period of time. Another way teens consume alcohol is in private homes where they accept dares, play drinking games, and engage in one-upmanship to gain or maintain a social status among their peers. The brains of teens are not completely formed, and decision-making abilities are not fully established till they are in their mid-twenties. Drinking impairs judgment further, and there can be dire consequences to binge drinking in teens.
Binge drinking means that within a few hours, someone imbibes four to five drinks, depending on body size. In extreme cases, someone will down seven or more drinks in 30 minutes, an extreme binge that can have dangerous results. Some of the risks of binge drinking include:
Mental and Psychological Impairment
Lasting beyond the binge, such impairment can manifest as poor memory, difficulty concentrating and learning, mood instability, and more.
Poor judgment leads to careless, risky actions, which can end in tragedy. You probably know of a teen who died as a result of impaired driving, their own or someone else’s. Other consequences might be sexually transmitted diseases or pregnancy due to unprotected sex, or death by drowning, fall, or exposure.
Alcohol Poisoning (due to excessive consumption)
Alcohol poisoning can be life-threatening because the function of the autonomic nervous system is degraded, resulting in lowered pulse and breathing, and impaired reflexes like the gag reflex. Other signs of poisoning include vomiting, seizures, extreme confusion, and low body temperature.
People who were binge drinkers in their teen years are at greater risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, cardiovascular issues, and more, especially if they are addicted to alcohol and continue to drink.
The level of excessive drinking involved in binging is linked to alcohol addiction. A teenager who wakes up one day addicted to alcohol has a heartbreaking realization. Impulsive, risky behavior — that seems so normal when you are young — has created a chronic condition that will need to be addressed and coped with throughout life.
Preventing Binge-Drinking Behaviors
The best way to protect our teens from alcohol addiction is to prevent binge-drinking behaviors before they start, which involves:
- Creating safe environments for teens, online, at home, at school (everywhere they spend time)
- Changing the way we view drinking in our society
- Shifting the culture so that there is more stigma associated with being drunk than there is with being a teen who abstains or shows restraint
- Providing accurate education and information that recognizes that teens think and feel differently from adults. Also, meeting them where they are is important.
If you or someone you love is a teenager who is struggling with alcohol abuse or addiction, binge-drinking often, or showing signs of struggle and isolation related to alcohol, reach out for help.
PAATC’s Alcohol Treatment Program for Teens
Alcohol use in teens will obviously never disappear, though the excesses that result in teens’ needing alcohol rehab can be mitigated with concerted effort within our communities. The community at PAATC is one of support, safety, and wrap-around care provided by compassionate professionals. Learn more about how PAATC can help the teen in your life begin recovery from an AUD. Reach out by calling 844.442.8673 or using our online form.