Alcohol remains the most used and abused substance in teens, with binge drinking often starting in adolescence.
Commonly defined as having five or more drinks per occasion for men, and four for women, binge drinking often starts in adolescence. While young people may drink less often than adults, they tend to drink higher quantities each time. Underage binge drinking causes a wide range of problems, not the least of which is a higher risk of developing alcohol use disorder.
Binge drinking definitions for adolescents vary based upon age, weight and speed at which someone reaches a blood alcohol level of .08. In teens ages 14 or 15, for example, this typically happens after three drinks for girls and four for boys. A standard drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer with 5% alcohol content; 5 ounces of wine with 12%; or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits with 40% alcohol content, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
No matter which definition is used, research shows that people ages 12 through 20 drink about 11% of all alcohol consumed in the country. And, adolescents consume more than 90% of their alcohol by binge drinking.
Binge drinking often has dire consequences — excessive drinking kills more than 3,200 underage youth each year. In addition, the use of alcohol can damage a developing adolescent brain, causing lifelong changes that can affect things such as memory. Alcohol use, including binge drinking, also can lead to increase impulsivity and things like depression and anxiety.
There are signs of drinking, including staying out late; smelling of alcohol; slurred speech; missing or watered-down alcohol at your house; change in mood; change in friends; falling grades. If you notice these signs, or your gut tells you something is going on, have a talk with your child. Visit talbotgoespurple.org for more information.
If you think there is a need for intervention, there are resources available — the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is a great place to start. SAMHSA has a national 24-hour helpline and can provide information and treatment referrals: 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
Maryland Coalition of Families also offers resources, including family peer support specialists who can help you navigate treatment, support and other services. Learn more at their website, mdcoalition.org.
Talbot Goes Purple is an educational and awareness prevention program that empowers our youth and our community to “Go Purple” as a sign of taking a stand against substance abuse. The purpose of the program is to promote the “new conversation” – one that includes prescription drugs, alcohol, marijuana and e-cigarettes. TGP focuses on educating students about the dangers of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs, and works toward preventing kids from beginning to use these substances in the first place.
An initiative from the Talbot County Sheriff’s Office and Tidewater Rotary, in partnership with Talbot County Public Schools, Saints Peter & Paul School and the Mid-Shore Community Foundation, Talbot Goes Purple empowers our youth and our community to “Go Purple” as a sign of taking a stand against substance abuse.
Talbot Goes Purple is a component fund of the Mid-Shore Community Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization – donations to which are tax deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.