What Binge Drinking at a Young Age Does to a Person

Drunk teenager.

Our worries and concerns for young people likely exceed our worries for any other age bracket or demographic in the U.S. We express constant concern for our youngsters, and not without good reason. Though technology expands, opportunity grows, and one would think that life should be getting better, life actually gets riskier for young people each and every year.

Whether it’s texting and driving, getting caught up in dangerous activities or hobbies, dangerous workplace scenarios, taking prescription drugs (even exactly as prescribed), or abusing drugs and binge drinking alcohol, teens and young adults seem to be more exposed to dangerous lifestyles and risks than they were before. To add to the severity, new research shows that when young people do take part in drug use or binge drinking, they are in even more danger than when grown adults take part in those same activities.

What Happens When Young People Binge Drink

When young people binge drink, alcohol reacts with their dopamine receptors in a way quite unlike the reaction that occurs in older people. Young people are impacted significantly, the alcohol combining with already-high-strung dopamine, serotonin, endorphins, and free-flowing adrenaline across all nerve channels.

When young people binge drink, they are more likely to go overboard, they are more likely to have an accident, to get alcohol poisoning, or to experience some other kind of disaster. For these reasons and many others, binge drinking should be avoided.

How to Address Binge Drinking in Young People

Teenager drinking beer.

According to a Swiss study of six-hundred participants ages fifteen through twenty-four, we’ve been going about helping young addicts all wrong. Half of the patients reported binge drinking (more than five drinks in one incidence of drinking). The other half reported drinking frequently.

According to researcher Dr. Dagmar Haller, a professor at the University of Geneva and Geneva University Hospitals:

Training family doctors to deliver a brief intervention to address excessive substance use failed to reduce binge drinking and excessive cannabis use among young patients at three, six and 12 months follow-up. Formal training in using the brief intervention may only have had a modest impact on the ability of experienced and interested family physicians to adapt their communication style with young people.

What this tells us is that treating young people with outpatient means, even outpatient means that are directly focused on substance abuse is not sufficient in helping the young person overcome and reduce drug abuse or binge drinking. When young people get trapped in a substance abuse habit, they need inpatient rehabilitation help, and they need it as quickly as possible.

That is how to address young people when they fall prey to a substance abuse habit, even if they had not been using substances for that long. Young people are simply not positively reinforced by outpatient methods, even intensive and direct ones. They need chronic, twenty-four-hour care and ongoing support for a month or more at a residential facility.

We want the best for our young ones, and we want them to grow up to be active, productive, happy, and sober members of society. When substance abuse strikes in one’s youth, it has the worst effect possible, both biologically and psychologically. Risks for overdose and death are at their highest, and success rates for kicking the habit on one’s own are next to zero.

We need to help our young people, we need to support them through their recovery, and we need to ensure that they get treatment, not a jail cell. These are the future leaders of our nation, and we need to ensure they are ready to take the reins of our country, sober and alert.




After working in addiction treatment for several years, Ren now travels the country, studying drug trends and writing about addiction in our society. Ren is focused on using his skill as an author and counselor to promote recovery and effective solutions to the drug crisis. Connect with Ren on LinkedIn.