You may think that binge drinking is just a male teen problem but things are changing quickly. Thirty percent of all teens in their high school senior year admit to binge drinking. Most parents don't consider it a big deal, after all they are just having some fun. Binge drinking can lead to serious health problems, now and later. Teen drinking and binge drinking is not taken seriously enough by many parents. A friend of ours admits he had so much fun drinking in college, he failed several courses. Party time resulted in failed grades.
What defines binge drinking? Binge drinking constitutes drinking four alcoholic drinks for girls and five drinks for boys rapidly in one sitting. Often it results from a dare to see who can drink the most booze first or who can drink the rest of the kids under the table. They may drink from peer pressure just to fit in.
Girls and teen drinking: Research from the University of California in San Diego and Stanford University recently published a report on binge drinking in Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research. The teens tested did not drink on a regular basis. However, the 95 teen aged boys and girls had been involved in binge drinking in the past few weeks before researchers questioned them. The researchers found that when girls drink, there is a higher risk for long-term brain impairment than in their male counterparts. This brain impairment affects reduced cognitive and memory brain functions that last long after the binge is over. The girls were more severely impacted than the boys with the same level of drinking.
Why does alcohol affect female brain function more severely than a male? Drinking alcohol impacts a female's health, no matter what her age, more severely than her male counterpart. In fact, the life of a woman alcoholic is reduced by 10 years, over a male who drinks the same amount and for the same time period. Her liver will suffer more damage, as well. Liver damage affects hormonal balance. That is not fair, but is borne out by numerous research studies.
Factors in female alcohol metabolism: Females usually weigh less, have more body fat than males, have a slower basal metabolic rate, a more complex hormonal system, and mentally mature sooner than males.
The hormonal issue is an important one: Girls are rapidly developing and changing hormonally in their teenage years. The female system is much more complicated than in males. Thyroid function is important to all areas of female development. When females binge drink or drink to excess, it may impact thyroid function for weeks. Their thyroid affects overall hormonal balance and every function of the body including mental functions. Alcohol and its hormonal impact is one of the main reasons why girls and adult women should not drink excessively at any time.
Binge drinking and sexual behavior: Girls, when drinking, are more prone to take part in risky sexual and drug activity than when sober and thinking clearly. Sexual diseases and pregnancy can be the result, as well.
Drinking and driving: This is also more dangerous for a female. She may drive unsafely even after one drink.
Binge drinking can also lead to more serious long-term drinking problems. With all the pressures from school and society, teens may see drinking as a means to dull the pressure and stress. Many teens may be suffering from depression and anxiety. As parents, it is our job to help our children to learn how to deal with these pressures they are under without drugs and drinking. Binge drinking is a serious problem not to be taken lightly.