We Can Predict Future Binge Drinking Teens

Last updated on November 4th, 2019

Most parents raising teenagers have, at some point, wished for a magic crystal ball that allows users to predict the future.

While science is many light years away from the practice of fortune telling, parents might be able to predict which teens are at risk for becoming binge drinkers by the age of 16.

Using the predictors as a guide, researchers were able to identify future-binging teens with an accuracy rate of 70 percent.With most boys trying alcohol at the age of 11 and girls at the age of 13, neuroscientists from the University of Vermont were eager to take part in the largest ongoing adolescent brain imaging study ever conducted. From that data, researchers found a distinct number of binge drinking predictors, including genetics, brain function and 40 other variables. Using the predictors as a guide, researchers were able to identify future-binging teens with an accuracy rate of 70 percent.

Warning Signs Parents Should Heed

As with most disorders or addictions, teenage binge drinkers exhibit warning signs that parents should recognize. Some of those predictors include:

  • Personality
  • Seeking immediate gratification
  • A lack of conscientiousness
  • A family history of drug use
  • Whether or not the teens have already used alcohol, smoked, or experienced romantic relationships by the age of 13 or 14
  • Experiencing a series of stressful events in life
  • An enlarged brain

“Our goal was to develop a model to better understand the relative roles of brain structure and function, personality, environmental influences and genetics in the development of adolescent abuse of alcohol,” said lead author Dr. Robert Whelan, a former University of Vermont postdoctoral fellow in psychiatry, in a public statement.

The researchers based their conclusions on the MRI brain scans of 700 14-year-olds living in different European countries. Information related to their personalities, life experiences, and genetics also played a large role in the incidence of teenage binge drinking. The resulting data helped researchers identify “brain networks that predisposed some teens to higher risk behaviors, like experimentation with drugs and alcohol.”

The resulting data helped researchers identify “brain networks that predisposed some teens to higher risk behaviors, like experimentation with drugs and alcohol.”

The Dangers of Binge Drinking

For parents, the ability to predict teenage binge drinking and coordinate an early intervention can mean the difference between life and death. According to the CDC, underage binge drinking contributes to a multitude of problems. Along with unplanned pregnancies, teens that binge on alcohol also face an increased likelihood of vehicle accidents, injuries, health problems, drug abuse and more.


Also Read: Are the Effects of Drinking Too Much Reversible?


If you or someone you love is struggling from alcohol abuse, take action and learn about alcoholism treatment options to fit your needs. Call 1-888-366-3510 and speak with a helpful recovery professional today.

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