Teens are drinking less alcohol
In 2002, 28.8 percent of teens reported drinking alcohol, but by 2013 there was a 6.1 percent decrease in those who reported drinking. In addition, binge drinking — consuming more than five drinks at one time — declined from 19.3 percent in 2002 to 14.2 percent in 2013.
“When parents communicate clear expectations and they are supported by community efforts to prevent underage drinking, we can make a difference,” said Frances M. Harding, director of SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, in a news release. “However, there are still 8.7 million current underage drinkers and 5.4 million current underage binge drinkers. This poses a serious risk not only to their health and to their future, but to the safety and well-being of others. We must do everything we can to prevent underage drinking and get treatment for young people who need it.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10 percent of teens have driven after drinking, and 22 percent have been in the car with a driver who had been drinking.
“Teens who have never consumed alcohol do not know what their ‘limit’ is,” says Dr. Stephen Crouch, an emergency medicine physician at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill. “This can turn into trouble very quickly by binge drinking and become intoxicated quickly. Teens do not always know how alcohol will affect them, so they will drink and then drive or participate in other high-risk behavior where they could injure themselves. It also lowers their inhibition so they may do things they would not normally do.”
Dr. Crouch recommends bringing anyone to the emergency department if they are so intoxicated they are unable to be awoken easily, they are not able to walk without significant assistance or they do not have a reliable person to keep a close eye on them.
“The biggest risk occurs when someone has had too much to drink and alone,” Dr. Crouch says. “This increases their risk of falling and injuring themselves or vomiting and aspirating, which can cause breathing problems.”
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