You may think the toga party thrown by Bluto (John Belushi) and his Delta Tau Chi pals in the 1978 movie "Animal House" was an exaggeration of adolescent drinking habits for riotously comic effects. But a new report makes us wonder, and worry.
Interviewing more than 16,000 high-school seniors, researchers found that 20 percent downed five or more drinks in a row in the past two weeks; 10 percent say they slammed down 10 or more; and almost 6 percent admitted to 15 or more in one long binge. And it's not just the boys; now 20 percent of girls are doing it, too.
Excessive drinking damages teens' still-developing brain, memory and motor skills, while putting them at risk for lethal alcohol poisoning, being victims of violent crime, traffic accidents, and depression and anxiety.
Plus, they may have high-risk sex and develop alcohol problems as adults. But you can do a lot as a parent or significant adult in your favorite teen's life to help a kid avoid all that.
-Explain (calmly) the risks. And DO NOT overindulge yourself. If teens see you do it, they assume it's OK for them too.
-Talk about how alcohol marketing targets them, so they can understand that drinking isn't actually so cool.
-Don't drink with your kids or supply them with alcohol. That signals a go-along-to-get-along attitude that's a slippery slope.
-Make your kids feel that they're special and their future is bright, so they understand doing anything (alcohol or drugs) that compromises them is heartbreaking to you and a waste for them.
© 2013 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.
© King Features Syndicate