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Summer 2007 | Vol. 10 | No. 2

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Teens More Likely to Binge on Liquor, According to CDC

Two new studies by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that teenage binge drinkers are more likely to abuse hard liquor than beer, a cheaper-but less potent- alternative preferred by most adult bingers.

Beer may be cheaper and easier to find for adults, but teens are often better equipped to access the liquor by pilfering it from their parents' liquor cabinets. Other possible reasons teen prefer liquor are: it is easier to conceal by mixing it with juice or soda, and it produces the desired buzz more quickly.

The study of 14,000 adults defined a binge drinker as someone who had five or more alcoholic drinks on a least one occasion in the last 30 days. About 15 percent of U.S. adults, mostly men, fit this definition. The study found that nearly 75 percent mainly or exclusively drank beer, 17 percent opted for liquor and 9 percent preferred wine.

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In the second teen study, a different team examined 2005 survey data submitted by approximately 4,000 public high-school students in four states. The study found that liquor was the most commonly consumed alcoholic beverage among teens who reported binge drinking. However, because this study was smaller and more geographically limited than the adult study, it is difficult to compare the two scientifically.

Binge drinking, whether beer or liquor and whether done by adults or teens, is unquestionably dangerous. In fact, excessive alcohol consumption is blamed for 75,000 deaths annually, including car crashes, violence and other traumatic injury.