By Ashley Byrnes, Cooper Clendenin, Parker Silver, and Sebastian Valencia
The air in Bethesda, Maryland, on November 22 is brisk as students begin to fall out of Bethesda Chevy Chase High School. The underclassmen file on to the yellow school busses while the juniors and seniors jump into their friend’s cars, excited for the awaiting mischief associated with weekends in high school. While some kids head home, others go to the liquor store to pick up a bundle of alcohol. The dull hum of traffic calms Taylor's* heart which was beating rapidly from just purchasing alcohol illegally.
What are the plans for the weekend? Drinking during the weekend has seemed to remain as a societal norm for teenagers; whether at parties or hangouts, this belief seems to be supported. The unstable element that accompanies these social activities, however, is the amount of alcohol that the teens are drinking, each person being different.
There seems to be a rise in the number of teens that consume an abundant amount of alcohol, drinking until they are in an unmanageable state, at every opportunity they are given. Although not all teenagers engage in this type of behavior, seeing a person in a state of extreme intoxication is not uncommon.
It can be understood that the demonstration of underage drinking displayed throughout the world is not at an uprising of sorts right now. It has been a practice that has remained relatively constant for some time now. However, the aspect of binge drinking relative to this behavior is the shift that needs to be recognized. The American Addiction Center revealed how “individuals ages 12-20 account for 11% of all the alcohol consumed in the States, and more than 90% of that is consumed by binge drinking.”
A night out for this group can call for a lot of consequences caused by the excessive amounts of booze normally consumed. Throwing up, losing memory, being exposed on social media, and acting in manners guided only by impulse are just a few of the common outcomes for teens who drink to excess.
The rise in teenage binge drinkers has become apparent in the community. “Binge drinkers” are seen in school, in class in the hallways and playing sports, however, they are seen by certain individuals passed out on couches every single weekend.
While it may often be overlooked by binge drinkers, their family and friends are greatly affected by their loved one’s choice to regularly drink copious amounts of alcohol. Worrying for a loved one who is making unhealthy, dangerous choices proves to be one of the biggest burdens that a binge drinker’s family bears.
In social gatherings, there is an almost agreed upon policy for nights involving alcohol. For example, the boys will claim the majority of ownership over the beers, and the girls will drink the hard liquor. With this in mind, one can begin to conceptualize the extent that kids are drinking. The boys will begin to shovel the beers down their throats, trying to catch up to the girls who are already drunk off of a few shots. Because of varying alcohol percentages, some kids like are those like Taylor who believe that they “have to drink a whole lot more beers than most to really feel the effects of the alcohol.”
The alcohol at an average party consists 50% of beer, 25% mixed drinks and 25% hard liquor. The beer is meant to last all night while it is used for games and is drunk slowly. The other drinks go in minutes. These drinks are mostly consumed by girls. The handles are chugged and mixed drinks snatched up as quickly as possible because of the fear that they’ll be gone soon. Girls lean towards drinking hard alcohol more because it is easier for them to feel something. They drink less in order to feel more, but many of them don’t know the strength of what they’re drinking until it catches up with them. The amount that they are drinking is smaller than the amount of beer an average guy drinks, but the drink has a much stronger effect.
Fake IDs are a major player in terms of the promotion of binge drinking in a variety of ways. The fact is that all it takes is a combination of $50 and a short wait of 2-3 weeks, to get a fake ID Card. These ID cards scan and allow underage kids to go into clubs and purchase alcohol. A young looking teenager can easily buy alcohol at a liquor store without being questioned because their ID scans. The fact that you can have the privileges of being 21 at the age of 16 or 17 takes away from the significance of actually turning 21.With the increased technology that teens have access to in 2020, it’s not uncommon for videos and pictures to be taken of drunk teens making irresponsible choices. This common occurrence has led to many teens fearing the possibility that if they drink too much and act in a way that others find funny, they would risk being put on film. These videos could be seen by parents, teachers, or even colleges which they hope to apply to and lead to unwanted consequences. Being surrounded by phones mixed with trouble remembering events from parties could lead binge drinkers to be consumed by the fear that they were filmed making irresponsible or dangerous choices, which could lead to embarrassment or even compromise their future. While binge drinkers many times make choices despite their fears of the consequences, these fears are still present and place a heavy burden on these teens.
It is and never has been a secret that teenagers continue to maintain a common rebellious behavior of underage drinking. However, this generation especially has taken full advantage of the holes in the system. With the boom of Ubers, Fake Ids, and other technological advancements, being a binge drinker has never been so easy regardless of the risks associated with it. Recognizing the mental, developmental, and privacy dangers associated with this habit seems to be avoided until the drinker is slapped with their reality, alone in their sober thoughts. This type of teen fears admitting the truth of their behavior to themselves, so why would they concede to any other person. As Taylor put it, “You can’t be an alcoholic until you're out of college.”
*all names have been changed