Alcohol is the substance most frequently abused by children and adolescents in the United States, and its use is associated with the leading causes of death and serious injury at this age (ie, motor vehicle accidents, homicides, and suicides). Among youth who drink, the proportion who drink heavily is higher than among adult drinkers, increasing from approximately 50% in those 12 to 14 years of age to 72% among those 18 to 20 years of age. In this clinical report, the definition, epidemiology, and risk factors for binge drinking; the neurobiology of intoxication, blackouts, and hangovers; genetic considerations; and adverse outcomes are discussed. The report offers guidance for the pediatrician. As with any high-risk behavior, prevention plays a more important role than later intervention and has been shown to be more effective. In the pediatric office setting, it is important to ask every adolescent about alcohol use.
- Copyright © 2015 by the American Academy of Pediatrics