Underage drinking is not a new phenomenon. Young people have been indulging in alcohol before it is legal for years. The problem however, is continuing to rise over time, and the results of several studies have revealed that binge drinking for young people tends to peak during the week that they celebrate the birthday when they turn the legal drinking age.
Definition Of Binge Drinking
Binge drinking is drinking to the point of becoming intoxicated. Men reach this point when they have five drinks in one sitting and women binge drink when they have four or more drinks in one sitting. At any point in time, 40 percent of US college-aged students will have engaged in binge drinking within the prior two weeks (National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse).
Canadian Drinking-Age Celebrations Study Results
The results of a Canadian study published in the journal Addiction in July 2014 looked at all in-patient/Emergency Department admissions in Ontario, Canada from April 1, 2002-March 31, 2007. The participants in the study were individuals between the ages of 12-30 years of age.
The largest increases in admissions for Alcohol-Use Disorder (AUD) occurred during the birthday week the participants turned 19 years of age, which happens to be the legal drinking age in Ontario. Admission rates increased by over 110 percent over baseline for males and over 160 percent over baseline for females!
Another spike in admissions occurred for both genders during the birthday weeks when survey participants turned ages 20-22. This makes sense from a lifestyle point of view; young people in this age group could be binge drinking and needing medical attention during their “birthday weeks.”
As the participants aged, less pronounced spikes were noted as participants reached ages 23-26 years and 30 years. It’s interesting to note that the spikes in hospital admissions during “birthday weeks” still exist up to age 30, which means that binge drinking to celebrate a birthday doesn’t stop by the mid-twenties for all adults.
Dangers Of Binge Drinking
Binge drinking can lead to a number of injuries, including burns, falls, motor vehicle accidents and drownings. People who binge drink are at risk for being the victims of crime as well as having a heart attack, contracting a sexually transmitted disease or developing high blood pressure.
Frequent binge drinking puts participants at risk for alcoholism. This chronic disease requires professional treatment if the person is going to achieve sobriety, as he or she would not be able to stop independently.
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