High School Binge Drinking: 20% Of Seniors Have Consumed 5 Or More Drinks In A Row, Study Shows

plastic drinking cups
plastic drinking cups

A new study details a troubling binge-drinking trend among high-schoolers.

Researchers from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, found that one in five high-school seniors (20.2 percent) reported drinking five or more alcoholic drinks in a row some time in the past two weeks.

One in 10 high-school seniors (10.5 percent) reported drinking 10 or more alcoholic drinks in a row some time in the past two weeks, and 5.6 percent of high-school seniors reported drinking 15 or more alcoholic drinks in a row during that time period.

The study, published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, is based on data from 16,332 high-school seniors. Researchers defined a "drink" as either 12 ounces of beer or wine cooler, 4 ounces of wine, a shot of liquor, or a mixed drink.

The researchers found that high-school men were more likely to engage in binge drinking than high-school women, and white high-school seniors were more likely to binge drink that black high-school seniors.

The findings are especially troubling given the risks of alcohol overconsumption, such as impaired driving, alcohol poisoning, alcohol dependence and liver problems. A recent study even showed that binge drinking in adolescence and young adulthood could have a negative impact in the brain, by affecting memory and visual learning and promoting brain shrinkage.

In a related commentary, experts at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism noted that the percentage of high-school seniors reporting drinking five to nine drinks in a row, or 10 to 14 drinks in a row, has actually gone down between 2005 and 2011 -- but not the percentage of those reporting drinking 15 or more drinks.

"These findings might help explain why some consequences of underage drinking, such as hospitalizations for overdoses, are on the rise, despite general declines in binge drinking," they wrote.