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Teens and Alcohol

What Is Binge Drinking?

Unfortunately, at some teen parties, the emphasis is on drinking to get drunk. This "binge" drinking happens when someone drinks more than four (for women) or five (for men) alcoholic drinks in about two hours. Binge drinking is the most harmful type of drinking.

How Many Teens Drink Alcohol?

More and more teens are choosing not to drink alcohol. Less than one in 10 teens under 14 years old has drunk alcohol in the past month. For teens 15 to 17 years old, less than three in 10 have drunk alcohol in the past month. If somebody says you need to drink because "everybody" is doing it, don't believe it. Even though teenage drinking may seem common or even normal, it isn't.

Why Should You Not Drink Alcohol?

There are many reasons for teens not to drink alcohol or to wait until they are 21. Drinking can cause many problems:

  • Drinking before you turn 21 is illegal. You can be cited by the police and arrested for underage drinking.
  • Drunk driving kills about 4,000 teens each year. Do not drive after drinking. Do not ride with friends who have been drinking. If someone who has been drinking offers you a ride, say, "No, thank you." They might say they are fine to drive and pressure you to ride. It's OK to tell them some excuse like, "I want to stay at the party a bit longer" or "I already told another friend I would ride with him." The best solution is for them not to drive at all.
  • Your brain is still developing and will continue to develop until your early twenties. Drinking during this time may damage your brain. Teens who drink alcohol have worse memories than those who do not drink.
  • Using alcohol may put you at higher risk for dropping out of high school.
  • Starting to drink alcohol when you are a teen puts you at higher risk for being addicted to alcohol at some point.
  • Drinking alcohol puts you at higher risk for being robbed, raped, or assaulted. Under the influence of alcohol, your judgment is impaired. You are more likely to place yourself in a risky situation that you would normally avoid.

What About Peer Pressure to Drink Alcohol?

At some point, many teens are pressured to drink alcohol by friends or peers. You may feel that you need to drink to fit in. But it's OK to say no. Just remember that most teens do not drink regularly, so you are not alone.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Varnada Karriem-Norwood, MD on March 17, 2013

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