Binge drinking

Alcohol is an organic compound. Among the various recreational ‘drugs’, alcohol is a drug of choice among teens.

There are 3 types of alcohol:

  1. Beer contains about 3-6% alcohol

  2. Wine contains about 11-14% alcohol

  3. Liquor contains about 40-50% alcohol

Report form Centre of Disease Control and Prevention, USA showed:

Harmful use of alcohol accounts for almost 3.3 million deaths yearly.

About 12% of these involve young people between 15 to 29 years of age.

Alcohol is implicated in one quarter of all homicide

Early alcohol consumption has serious consequences

Alcohol industry on the other hand develops sophisticated marketing strategies to target teenagers.

What is the meaning of binge drinking?

  • In Malaysia, a school based study revealed that 5 % of teens have binge drink problems.

  • Binge drinking is the most common pattern of excessive alcohol use . World Health Organisation defines binge drinking as “heavy episodic drinkers” as adults who consume at least 60 grams or more of pure alcohol at least once a week.

  • Other more practical definition is consuming 5 or more drinks in a 2 hour period for males and 4 or more drinks in 2 hours for females.

  • Binge drinking is more common among young adults aged 18–34 years. Most people who binge drink are not alcohol dependent

  • Young people who start using alcohol before age 21 are more likely to develop alcohol problems in later life.

  •  In some cultures, binge drinking is regarded as a male drinking pattern.  Some cultures include binge drinking episodes among other rites of passage into  adulthood

  • Drink driving is one of the commonest cause of motor vehicle accidents among teens.

Why do teens binge drink?

  • Teens undergo rapid physical and psychosocial development and a their tolerance to alcohol increases.

  • Alcohol is used by  young people for relaxation, socialising and commiserating

  • Teens believe having a drink makes them appear more grown up.

  • Teens feel invulnerable and think alcohol has little harm

  • Teens want to try out new experiences and experiment with drinks

  • Teens often perceive drinking alcohol as a stress reliever

  • Teen’s family environment, peer pressure and  social influence. Teens are at greater risk for developing alcohol-related problems when alcohol is readily available at home or among their peer group, and if drunkenness is acceptable.

  • Genetics. A teen with an alcoholic sibling or parent is four times more likely to develop a problem with alcohol than someone without such a family history.

  • Teens with mental health disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and schizophrenia are prone for alcohol related problems.

  • Gender. Boys are more likely to drink heavily than girls, but girls become addicted at lower levels and shorter duration of use.

Binge drinking is associated with many health problems, including:

  • Unintentional injuries (e.g., car crashes, falls, drowning)

  • Intentional injuries (e.g., firearm injuries, sexual assault, domestic violence)

  • Alcohol poisoning

  • Sexually transmitted diseases

  • Engage in unprotected sex or have multiple sex partners

  • Unintended pregnancy

  • Liver disease

  • Neurological damage

  • Sexual dysfunction

  • Mental disorder –depression, self-harm etc

  • Significant social and economic losses to individuals and society at large.

  • School absenteeism

  • Pancreatitis

How to talk to teens about responsible drinking?

  • Studies have found that teen who begin drinking before age 15 years are 4 times more likely to develop alcohol dependence during their lifetime than are teens who begin drinking at age 21 years.

  • It is therefore important to delay the initiation of alcohol use among teens for the benefit of their long-term health

  • Parents, family members, teachers and teens themselves have a major role in avoiding alcohol problems in their life.

  • Talk to your parents openly and honestly about drinking and how to deal with it.

  • Good parental modelling is important.

  • Continuous parental monitoring of teens activity is necessary

  • Acceptable non-physical general disciplining and cordial parent-teen relationship  would create conducive environment at home.

  • Teen need a sense of control over their environments and good coping skills.

  • Be assertive to say no to your friends if you do not wish to drink.

  • Drink in moderation if you need to. Keep count of the number of standard drinks you consume

  • Drink beverages with lower alcohol content (i.e light beer)

  • Make sure you alternate each alcoholic drink with a  non-alcoholic drink such as water or soft drink

  • Avoid getting into ‘rounds’ or ‘shouts’ and keeping up a  quicker drinking pace than you are comfortable with .

  • Avoid playing drinking games

  • If you have binge drinking problems, you may also get support from your local doctors or Non-Governmental Organization.

  • Avoid gatherings and parties in which alcohol is served freely.

  • Limit the availability of alcohol at home.

  • Beware, a person may also inevitably indulge in other illicit drugs once she/he starts drinking alcohol


  1. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention

  1. Image:

  1. Teens Health

Last Reviewed : 24 November 2014
Writer : Dr. Thiyagar Nadarajaw
Accreditor : Dr. Nik Rubiah bte. Nik Abdul Rashid