Don't Let Alcohol Call the Shots: Know the Consequences of Underage and Binge Drinking


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The Worcester County Underage and Binge Drinking Awareness Task Force is launching a public awareness campaign to focus on reducing the instances of  underage and binge drinking among youth and young adults in our county.  According to the CDC, alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among youth in the United States.  Although drinking by persons under the age of 21 is illegal, people aged 12 to 20 years drink 11% of all alcohol consumed in the United States. More than 90% of this alcohol is consumed in the form of binge drinks.  



Binge drinking is the most common pattern of excessive alcohol use in the United States. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 grams percent or above. This typically happens when men consume 5 or more drinks, and when women consume 4 or more drinks, in about 2 hours. More than half of the alcohol consumed by adults in the United States is in the form of binge drinks. On average, underage drinkers consume more drinks per drinking occasion than adult drinkers.  According to the 2013 Youth Behavior Risk Survey, 2 out of every 5 Worcester County High School students have had at least one drink of alcohol in the last 30 days, and 1 in 5 have reported drinking 5 or more drinks of alcohol in a row.   

 

Consequences of Underage Drinking
 
Youth who drink alcohol 1,5,10 are more likely to experience-
 
• School problems, such as higher absence and poor or failing grades.
• Social problems, such as fighting and lack of participation in youth activities.
• Legal problems, such as arrest for driving or physically hurting someone while drunk.
• Physical problems, such as hangovers or illnesses.
• Unwanted, unplanned, and unprotected sexual activity.
• Disruption of normal growth and sexual development.
• Physical and sexual assault.
• Higher risk for suicide and homicide.
• Alcohol-related car crashes and other unintentional injuries,
        such as burns, falls, and drowning.
• Memory problems.
• Abuse of other drugs.
• Changes in brain development that may have life-long effects.
• Death from alcohol poisoning.
 
In general, the risk of youth experiencing these problems is greater for those who binge drink than for those who do not binge drink.

Youth who start drinking before age 15 years are six times more likely to develop alcohol dependence or abuse later in life than those who begin drinking at or after age 21 years.
 
Consequences of Binge Drinking
 
Binge drinking is associated with many health problems, including-
 
• Unintentional injuries (e.g., car crashes, falls, burns, drowning)
• Intentional injuries (e.g., firearm injuries, sexual assault, domestic violence)
• Alcohol poisoning
• Sexually transmitted diseases
• Unintended pregnancy
• Children born with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders
• High blood pressure, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases
• Liver disease
• Neurological damage
• Sexual dysfunction, and
• Poor control of diabetes.

For more information, call the Worcester County Health Department's Prevention Program at 410.632.0056.

To learn more about how to talk to your kids about making smart choices, visit: http://www.samhsa.gov/underage-drinking


To learn more about binge drinking, visit: http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/BingeDrinking/index.html