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The Warning Signs of Teen Binge Drinking

If you’re watching a coming-of-age movie about high school, chances are the young teen hero or heroine will attend a raging party filled with awkward conversations with a crush, a trashed house and substance use. Alcohol consumption and binge-drinking are particularly common in teen rom-com movies and unfortunately, are a common reality as well.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), 33 percent of teens 15 years old and up have had at least one alcoholic drink. By age 18, that percentage goes up to 60 percent. The NIAAA also reports that teens between the ages of 12 and 20 have consumed 11 percent of all alcohol in America. Not only are teens drinking alcohol, but they are engaging in binge-drinking behaviors.

The 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that during the past 30 days of being surveyed, teen alcohol abuse statistics looked like:

  • 30 percent drank alcohol
  • 14 percent binge drank
  • 6 percent drove a vehicle after drinking

Teen binge-drinking statistics from both the CDC and the NIAAA include:

  • 1 in 6 teenagers binge drink
  • 21 percent of high school students have engaged in binge drinking behaviors within the past 30 days
  • 90 percent of alcohol ingested by teens is consumed by binge drinking
  • 4,300 teen deaths are caused by excessive drinking each year

Common Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse

Teens drinking alcohol is dangerous for several reasons like driving under the influence, higher risk of sexual assault, a higher chance of injury and alcohol poisoning or alcohol-related illness. It’s important to identify symptoms of alcohol abuse so that someone exhibiting these symptoms can receive the help they need.

Common signs of alcohol abuse among teens include:

  • Changes in mood and behavior
  • Changing a group of friends
  • Low energy level
  • Less interest in activities or hobbies that were once enjoyed
  • Less interest in appearance or hygiene
  • Difficulty with memory
  • Coordination problems
  • Frequent hangovers
  • Relationship problems
  • Legal trouble

Recognizing Binge Drinking

Behavioral and physical symptoms may take time to develop, but signs of binge drinking are typically recognizable immediately after a teen has consumed an excessive amount of alcohol in a short period.

It’s important to be aware of the symptoms of binge drinking so you can help someone get medical help if they need it. Some common signs of binge-drinking include:

  • Loud and slurred speech
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Promiscuous behavior
  • Staggering
  • Disorientation
  • Vomiting
  • Memory loss

The Dangers of Teen Binge Drinking

Drinking alcohol can be dangerous for anyone, but teenagers typically engage in binge-drinking behaviors which make them intoxicated faster and can lead to alcohol poisoning and other potentially life-threatening situations. Short- and long-term effects of binge drinking exist that everyone should be aware of before drinking alcohol.

Short-Term Effects of Binge Drinking

Some short-term effects that may occur after someone has been binge drinking include:

  • Risk of sexually transmitted diseases
  • Injuries like falls, burns, drowning or car accidents
  • Unintended pregnancies
  • Sexual assault
  • Academic or work mistakes
  • Hangovers
  • Vomiting
  • Blackouts (memory loss)

If a teen continues to engage in binge drinking and it begins to affect their life, it could develop into an alcohol use disorder. Some other long-term effects of binge-drinking include:

  • High blood pressure, stroke and other cardiovascular issues
  • Liver disease
  • Neurological damage
  • Pancreatitis
  • Cancer
  • Depression
  • Dementia and declining mental function
  • Seizures
  • Nerve damage
  • Anemia

Drinking alcohol in excess isn’t good for anyone’s health, but it can be detrimental to teens because their bodies and brains are still developing.


If you or someone you know is struggling with binge drinking or an alcohol use disorder, help is available. At Next Generation Village, a team of professionals design an individualized treatment program to address substance use and co-occurring disorders. Call and speak with a representative to learn more about which program could work for you.



The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Fact Sheets— Underage Drinking.” August 2, 2018. Accessed May 3, 2019.

The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “Underage Drinking.” February 2017. Accessed May 3, 2019.

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