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Binge Drinking and Alcohol Poisoning

According to a 2005 national survey on drug use, there are about 11 million underage drinkers in the United States. About 7.2 million of underage drinkers are binge drinkers—having five or more drinks in a row for males and four or more for females. Binge drinking, especially at a young age, can cause high blood pressure, obesity, and poor brain and body growth.1 Teens are more likely to suffer brain damage from alcohol than adults are. Binge drinking also can cause death from heart attacks and alcohol poisoning. This poisoning happens when alcohol shuts down the part of the brain that controls breathing and heart rate, and the person dies.

This 2003 survey compares the stats of teen nondrinkers and binge drinkers. Binge drinkers were:

  • Eleven times more likely to ride with a driver who had been drinking alcohol;
  • Nineteen times more likely to be smokers;
  • Four times more likely to be in a physical fight;
  • Nearly four times more likely to have been raped or beaten while on a date; and
  • More than five times more likely to be sexually active.

Teen binge drinkers were also more likely to use marijuana, cocaine, and inhalants. Also, they were more likely to drink and drive, come to physical harm, and have unsafe sex.

  1. Center for Disease Control. Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Pediatrics Journal. 2003