Page last updated: February 18, 2014

One-fifth of high school seniors in the US report recent binge drinking

Findings from a survey of more than 16,000 high school seniors between 2005 and 2011 in the US reveal that 20% of students had engaged in binge drinking—having five or more drinks on one occasion—in the last two weeks, 10% had 10 or more drinks on one occasion, , and 5.6% had consumed at least 15 drinks.
Rates of 5+ binge drinking and 10+ extreme binge drinking have declined since 2005, but rates of 15+ extreme binge drinking have not significantly declined. Boys were more likely than girls to engage in binge drinking, as well as extreme binge drinking. Students with college-educated parents were more likely to consume 5 or more drinks but were less likely to consume 15 or more drinks than students whose parents were not college educated. White students were more likely than black and Hispanic students to be extreme binge drinkers Students from more rural areas were more likely than students from large metropolitan areas to consume 15 or more drinks. Substance-related attitudes, socialising with substance-using peers, the number of evenings out with friends, and other substance use (cigarettes and marijuana) predicted all 3 levels of binge and extreme binge drinking.
Ralph W. Hingson and Aaron White, from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, noted in an accompanying editorial that while reported levels of binge drinking have been decreasing among teens, medical emergencies involving teen drinking have not.
“These findings might help explain why some consequences of underage drinking, such as hospitalisations for overdoses, are on the rise, despite general declines in binge drinking,” they wrote.
Source: Extreme Binge Drinking Among 12th-Grade Students in the United States Prevalence and Predictors Megan E. Patrick; John E. Schulenberg; Meghan E. Martz; Jennifer L. Maggs; Patrick M. O’Malley; Lloyd D. Johnston. JAMA Pediatr. Published online September 16, 2013. 
Trends in Extreme Binge Drinking Among US High School Seniors. Ralph W. Hingson; Aaron White. JAMA Pediatr. Published online September 16, 2013.

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