Underage drinking is by no stretch of the imagination a new phenomenon. What is a new phenomenon is the increased percentage of extreme underage drinking or binge drinking. In fact, binge drinking accounts for 90% of all the beer and liquor consumed by teens. Binge drinking is defined as drinking five or more drinks in a row by a man, or four or more drinks in a row by woman.
There are many reasons for this new phenomenon. One reason is that those under 21 drink to get drunk as quickly and cheaply as possible. This has lead to the creation of cheap, highly potent, and highly caffeinated drinks by beverage companies. It has also led to the rise of Jungle Juice or Hunch Punch, which is a mixture of grain alcohol, fruit juices and energy drinks, at college parties.
One problem with mixing high proof alcohol with energy drinks is that the caffeine in the energy drinks prevents the drinker from feeling tired. As a result the drinker drinks even more. In fact, doctors are now seeing college kids come in to the hospital with blood alcohol levels from .3 to .4. These are levels that were once seen only in chronic alcoholics. It is also four to five times the legal limit to drive.
When coupled with the fact that 23% of all teenage drivers involved in fatal car accidents have a blood alcohol level above the legal limit of .08 the seriousness of the problem becomes apparent.
Car accidents are not the only threat posed to children from binge drinking. The following is a list of both short-term and long-term health problems that can result from binge drinking:
- Short-term problems
- Difficulty Breathing
- Alcohol poisoning
- Long-term problems
- Stomach Ulcers
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Liver Disease
Yet despite these facts teens continue to binge drink in what is becoming epidemic levels. Many teens do not fully appreciate the safety risks that they pose to themselves and others by drinking and driving. That is why everything possible must be done to educate teens about these risks.