Youthful Binge Drinking: Spotting It and Getting Help
Sometimes children experiment with alcohol. Some of them will become binge drinkers. Knowing the signs is the first stop in arresting this harmful behavior before it ruins someone’s life or academic career. And knowing where to get help can prevent a long-term problem.
Drinking too much, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, either on a single occasion or over time, can harm health in many ways. It interferes with brain, heart, liver and pancreas function. It can increase the risk of developing certain cancers. It can weaken the immune system and leave the drinker more vulnerable to disease and infection.
Alcohol abuse can be disproportionately dangerous for young, “social” binge drinkers, according to the health resources page on InsuranceQuotes.org. If binge drinking becomes a habit, it can cause emotional and physical health problems that can undermine success in school, work or relationships. If a child’s grades and friendships slide, alcohol can seem like a good way to escape.
Binge drinking isn’t only a threat to one’s health, it’s expensive. According to InsuranceQuotes, in California, for example, the cost of a first time DUI for a teenage driver is at least $45,435. Most of that cost is about increased car insurance rates for years after the infraction. If someone’s injured during a DUI, it’s even more costly.
If your child exhibits any of these signs, he or she might have a drinking problem requiring your intervention:
- mental confusion or stupor;
- slow (fewer than eight breaths per minute) or irregular (10 seconds or more between breaths) breathing
- hypothermia (cool to the touch, pale or bluish skin color).
Because blood alcohol levels can continue to rise even when someone stops drinking or is passed out, don’t wait to seek medical help.
There are many resources to get help for your young drinker. Colleges and universities recognize the appeal of drinking to some students, and policies exist on many campuses to facilitate the reporting of alcohol or drug abuse without fear of punishment. Find out what your child’s school does in these instances from Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP). Other resources include:
- Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD);
- College Drinking Prevention;
- The Cool Spot (help with resisting peer pressure);
- Stop Underage Drinking.
Because drinking affects everyone in the family and circle of friends, you might want the support and guidance offered by these organizations:
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