Adolescents drink for different reasons than adults. Adults drink to socialize and may have a few glasses of wine or beer while attending a social event, watching sports or sitting on the patio enjoying the summer.
Adolescents tend to “binge drink,” that is they drink for effect and to get drunk quickly. This can also be accompanied by mixing alcohol with energy drinks, a dangerous concoction that energizes and removes inhibitions at the same time. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 90% of teens who drink engage in binge drinking, defined as 4 drinks or more per occasion for women, and 5 drinks or more per occasion for men.
Emergency room physicians routinely find that teens admitted to the ER have extremely high Blood Alcohol Levels, many times the legal limit for driving (.08). For example, over 200,000 adolescents are admitted to emergency rooms every year for alcohol related reasons.
Colleges and a few private substance abuse counselors now offer alcohol awareness classes online to help reduce the consequences of binge drinking. One online site offers a series alcohol awareness classes that allows the adolescents to compare their drinking to the general public. This has proven to be a promising approach because the adolescent is not confronted, but rather, provided with useful feedback about his or her drinking and where it fits in with others.
Colleges are starting to see improvements in their student’s drinking patterns, as measured by frequency, amount and consequences of alcohol use once they complete online alcohol awareness classes.