Kids and high-intensity drinking

ANN ARBOR—About 2 percent of kids 14 to 16 years old report high-intensity drinking—drinking 10 or more drinks in a row—in the last two weeks, according to a University of Michigan study.

The study is the first to report the prevalence of this type of drinking among young adolescents.

The study examined high-intensity drinking among 14- and 16-year-olds in the United States. About 1.2 percent of eighth graders reported high-intensity drinking while 3.1 percent of 10th-graders reported the same level of drinking, U-M researcher Megan Patrick and colleagues report in a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

If extrapolated across the U.S. population, that would mean about 40,000 8th-grade students and 113,000 10th-grade students use alcohol in this way, Patrick said.

“High-intensity drinking is obviously concerning because this type of consumption raises adults’ blood alcohol concentrations to at least four times the legal limit for driving,” said Patrick, lead author and a research associate professor at the Survey Research Center, part of the U-M Institute for Social Research.

“Adolescents who engage in high-intensity drinking are at great risk for severe and life-threatening consequences of their alcohol use, such as drinking to the point of losing consciousness.”

The study also found that more boys tend to participate in high-intensity drinking than girls—about 2.3 percent compared to 1.7 percent. High-intensity drinking was significantly higher among kids who had ever used marijuana or cigarettes.

For those who used marijuana, 8.1 percent also drank heavily, compared to 0.5 percent who didn’t use marijuana. About 9.8 percent of those who had smoked cigarettes also reported high-intensity drinking, compared to 0.9 percent who had never smoked.

This research uses data from the 2016 Monitoring the Future study. Data were collected during 2016 from nationally representative samples of 8th- and 10th-graders, including 32,873 students from 252 schools. Patrick’s co-authors include Yvonne Terry-McElrath, Richard Miech, Patrick O’Malley, John Schulenberg and Lloyd Johnston. The research was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Contact

Morgan Sherburne, morganls@umich.edu, 734-647-1844

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