One in ten high school seniors admits to engaging in “extreme binge drinking,” or having ten or more drinks in a row, according to a new study from the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research. And 5.6 percent of those high schoolers say they have had 15 or more drinks in a single sitting.
While the rate of overall underage binge drinking — which is generally defined as consuming five or more alcoholic beverages in quick succession — has decreased significantly since 2005, lead study author Megan Patrick says that extreme binge drinking rates have remained at about the same level over the same time period. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 39 percent of all high school students have had some alcohol in the past month and that 22 percent of them binge drank in the last month.
The University of Michigan study found disparities in extreme binge drinking among certain demographics. For instance, males were 67 percent more likely to extreme binge drink than females; white students were almost four times as likely to do so as black students; and teens living in urban regions were more likely to extreme binge drink than both suburban and urban high school seniors. Young Americans who engaged in extreme binge drinking were also far more likely to have tried other drugs.
Consistently having that many alcoholic beverages at a young age can have adverse, long-term consequences on brain development, increase the risk of someone committing physical and sexual assault, and also increase one’s chances of committing suicide and homicide, according to the CDC.
The agency also recently reported that binge drinking costs the U.S. $171 billion per year in lose productivity and increased medical costs. Approximately 40 percent of those costs were paid for by government entitlement programs.