Long Term Effects of Binge Drinking
It's no secret that those persons who begin to drink early in their teen years have an increased risk of developing alcohol dependence during their lives, often at a young age. But new research shows that teen binge drinking has other long - term effects on the health, particularly a higher risk for developing heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
Those persons who begin drinking early tend to indulge in binge drinking, defined by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism as more than 4 drinks on a single occasion (generally over 2 hours or less) for males and more than 3 drinks on a single occasion over the same time period for females. The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, compared binge drinkers (called early peak drinkers) with those who began drinking alcohol later in life and maintained a moderate drinking pattern (stable drinkers). Researchers found that even if early peak drinkers drank less over a lifetime than stable drinkers or curtailed their drinking as they matured - they still had a greater risk for health problems.
The study authors speculate that heavy drinking causes changes in the endocrine system and cardiovascular system that carry over to later life, and also that early peak drinkers may have developed other unhealthy lifestyle habits that are detrimental to the body.
The message for parents? The longer you can keep your child away from alcohol, the better. And if you suspect that your teen is already using alcohol, early intervention with therapeutic programs such as wilderness camps can help to keep him from sliding into alcohol dependence.