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Binge-Drinking Highly Common for High School Seniors, Study Finds

Update Date: Sep 16, 2013 04:06 PM EDT

Even though American teenagers are not legally allowed to purchase alcohol, no one is surprised to hear when teenagers manage to get drunk during weekend house parties once someone's parents are out of town. Even though the majority of teenagers might not be drinking alcohol in excess, the group of teens who do might be at risk of picking up other bad life habits, such as drugs. Due to the dangers involved with alcohol, programs have worked hard to find ways of dissuading teens from drinking. However, in a new study, researchers found that for some high school seniors, binge drinking five or more drinks is common.

For this study, the research team headed by Megan E. Patrick, Ph.D. from the University of Michigan Ann Arbor analyzed the signs of moderate to extreme binge drinking in 16,332 high school seniors. The group of seniors was considered to be nationally representative with 52.3 percent females. The group also broke down into 11 percent black, 13.1 percent Hispanic, 11.5 percent other and 64.5 percent white. Binge drinking was defined as drinking over five drinks. Extreme binge drinking meant that the high school senior drank over 10 to 15 drinks in a row. Drinks were defined as 12 ounces of beer, four ounces of wine, 12 ounces of a wine cooler, a mixed drink or a shot of liquor.

20.2 percent of all the seniors in the study had reported binge drinking within the past two weeks. 10.5 percent of them had drunk over 10 drinks while 5.6 percent admitted to drinking over 15 drinks. The researchers found that boys were more likely than girls to partake in all levels of binge drinking. When it came to ethnicities, the team reported that white teenagers were more likely to binge drink than black students. The researchers also noted that students with college-educated parents were more likely to binge drink but not in excess.

"The documented rates of extreme binge drinking, and the fact that they have not changed across recent historical time, support the need for additional research to develop effective prevention and intervention strategies to reduce high-risk alcohol behaviors of youth," the authors wrote.

The study was published in JAMA

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