Thoughts On Teen Binge Drinking
Binge drinking among teenagers is on the rise. Why? Teen alcohol abuse is nothing new, but according to a Parade Magazine article (June 12, 2011), there is a new epidemic of teen binge drinking. When I was a teenager, the goal was to get a buzz, that light-headed feeling that helped you feel less inhibited and more comfortable in the stressful teen social scene. I don’t remember anyone setting out with the goal of drinking as much as they could, as quickly as they could, until they threw up or passed out.
According to the article, new alcoholic drinks like Jungle Juice, Blast and Four Loko (or Blackout in a can) can be quite dangerous, even lethal.
So help me understand, what is the attraction of binge drinking, and do teenagers understand the potentially deadly consequence?
I really don’t think kids today are out to purposely get black out drunk either. Just like you said how it was when you were a teen, they are looking to have fun and lose their inhibitions or “get a buzz”. But I can believe what the Parade article said about the binge drinking level rising. And I also agree that it has to do with drinks like Four Loko. The fact that drinking is easier and it tastes good makes it easier for younger kids to not realize how fast they are drinking and how drunk they will ultimately get. With drinks that taste as good as soda, it is really hard to realize that you need to stop, especially when the effects of the drink won’t hit you full force for an hour or so after you start drinking.
But when it comes to teen drinking, it all comes down to how you teach your kids. Your child needs to know the signs of alcohol poisoning. They should know how to be safe when a party gets out of hand and that they can call you for help. If they understand those three things then you shouldn’t have to worry too much about your kid making poor decisions. Most of the time in high school, I found that kids who had parents who taught them to be responsible and then were trusting were the ones who made the best choices. And that doesn’t mean they didn’t have fun in high school.
Overall drinking will always be a problem with teens. Just prepare them and teach them how to be safe. And let them know that you are there for them anytime they get in trouble.
Kids actually die from binge drinking. Everybody knows about drinking and driving, designated drivers, etc. But I suspect most teens do not know how serious binge drinking can be (other than the obvious side effects of falling, losing control and being taken advantage of), and how alcohol toxicity can kill you or leave you brain dead.
Most things in moderation (even drinking in my opinion) are ok. Just be careful.
I think teen binge drinking is the culmination of a couple of pressures that teens feel. For one thing, teens want to be considered grown-up and unrestricted. Drinking is a way for them to feel like they are more adult, and more experienced in something they aren’t legally allowed to do yet. This is not to say that all teens feel an overpowering urge to prove they’re more mature. But I think everyone feels it on some level.
Another big factor is peer and media pressure. Movies encourage it, celebrities do it, and big partiers respect it. Teens are drawn into it because our culture is just screaming that it’s cool to drink. When everyone is surrounding a kid yelling “Chug!” or insisting on taking shots, it’s hard for him or her to say it’s wrong and leave.
Lastly, teens (and many adults too) have a fascination with losing control, because it is a freeing experience. Alcohol is one of the easiest substances for teens to find that induces this feeling. With it, teens let go, loosen up, and consider it fun and special, especially with others. This is exceptionally dangerous, because “letting go” soon turns into blacking out, and loosening up becomes insane and irrational.
I’m not giving these reasons to justify teen binge drinking, but just to explain the roots of it. I highly doubt teens start out thinking about how cool it would be to get sick, end up in the emergency room, or die. It begins with curiosity and pressure, and goes wildly out of control before they even know what happened. That quick transition from small illegal fun to life-threatening danger is what teens don’t comprehend. And that’s what parents need to emphasize the most.