Study Reports an Increase in Binge Drinking Among Young People

womanBinge drinking is the practice of consuming large amounts of alcohol in a single sitting.   A man drinking five or more drinks at a sitting, or a woman drinking four or more drinks at a sitting is regarded as binge drinking.  According to the Foundation for a Drug-Free World, around 90% of the alcohol consumed by U.S. youth under 21-years of age is consumed in the form of binge drinks.

Binge Drinking

According to an online MSN News article, a recently released study found alcohol consumption has declined over the past 20 years in wealthy, developed countries.  At the same time, binge drinking has increased amongst youth.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), comprised of 34 nation members, reports a 2.5 % decline in the average annual alcohol consumption over the past two decades in its member countries.  That equates to a 2.4 gallon decrease in pure alcohol per capita.

At the same time, the OECD says that the declining trend masks the hazardous increase in binge drinking amongst young people.  The OECD bases its measure of binge drinking on both the amount and rate at which alcohol is consumed.

OECD cites binge drinking by youth as a major social and public health concern, noting that children are taking-up alcohol consumption at increasingly earlier ages.  The report cited the harmful consumption of alcohol currently accounts for a higher proportion of worldwide deaths than does AIDS, HIV, tuberculosis and violence combined.

Binge Drinkers:  Who are they?

According to the OECD report, the proportion of boys 15 years of age and younger who have been drunk increased to 43 %; up from 30 % during the 2000s.  The proportion of girls increased from 26 % to 41 %.

The OECD identified regular young adult binge drinking as the consumption of 5 or more drinks on one occasion, once per week.  Germany, Italy and Canada all showed increases in binge drinking amongst both women and men over the past two decades.  An increase was also found amongst New Zealand women, and French men.

In comparison, England and Ireland saw a fall in binge drinking rates in that same 20-year time-period.

The study found that while France, Austria and Estonia previously had the highest rates of alcohol consumption–more than 3.17 gallons per capita annually– Austria and France showed a drop in consumption.  Estonia, on the other hand, continued on the trend of increased alcohol consumption, logging a 60% increase between 1992 and 2012.

Consequences of Binge Drinking

According to the Foundation for a Drug-Free World, more teenagers worldwide are killed by alcohol than all other drugs combined.  Among youth ages 15 to 24-years old, alcohol is a factor in accidents, homicides, and suicides—the three leading causes of death.

Furthermore, young people who drink alcohol are:

  • 7.5 times more likely to use other illegal drugs.
  • 50 times more likely to use cocaine in comparison to youth who never drink.

Long-term effects of binge drinking, and continuing to consume alcohol in large amounts, is linked to numerous health problems, including:

  • Alcohol poisoning.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Stroke.
  • Heart-related disease.
  • Nerve damage.
  • Permanent brain damage.
  • Malnutrition.
  • Ulcers.
  • Gastritis.
  • Cancer of the mouth and throat.

And it is linked to damage that affects others, including:

  • Increased family problems.
  • Broken relationships.
  • Loss of productivity.
  • Increased on-the-job injuries.
  • Unintentional injuries– car crashes, drowning, falls, burns.

Ultimately, binge drinking and continued over-consumption of alcohol results in dependency and addiction.  Alcohol abuse crosses all borders, all cultures, all races and all languages, and it indiscriminately ruins lives.