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Week of September 23, 2013

Research

Extreme binge drinking: How common is it among high school seniors?

A University of Michigan study published online in JAMA Pediatrics finds that 10 percent of high school seniors have engaged in extreme binge drinking, drinking 10 or more alcoholic drinks in a single sitting.

The study is based on data from a nationally representative sample of more than 16,000 high school seniors, surveyed between 2005 and 2011 as part of the annual Monitoring the Future Study conducted by the Institute for Social Research.

“More than one in 10 high school seniors had 10 or more drinks in a row and more than one in 20 had 15 or more drinks in a row at least once in the last two weeks,” said U-M developmental psychologist Megan Patrick, lead author of the study.

The study is important because it provides insight into seemingly conflicting trends: that reported levels of binge drinking — traditionally defined as having five or more drinks in a row — have been declining among adolescents, although medical emergencies involving teen alcohol use have not.

Co-authors of the study were U-M’s John Schulenberg, Meghan Martz, Patrick O’Malley and Lloyd Johnston, and Jennifer Maggs of Penn State University.

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