holiday-binge-drinkingThe holiday season is, in many cases, a time of excess in every which way; from shopping to partying it is hard for many not to be a little light in the pocketbook and a little hungover when the New Year begins. Of course, over drinking can often times be justified by saying ‘’tis the season;’ however, for young adults, holiday impulsive drinking behaviors can lead to danger down the road.

A new study from Concordia University, the Université de Montréal and University of Massachusetts, called “Determinants of Sustained Binge Drinking in Young Adults,” has found that the bad habits we develop when we are young may be present later in life. The researchers’ findings showed that teenagers who regularly consume alcohol are more likely to binge drink, at least into their mid-20s.

Teenagers, young adults, and parents are often unaware of what is considered binge drinking. Without a clear understanding, binge drinking can continue seemingly unchecked; by the time a problem is recognized it might be too late.

“Most people don’t even know when they’re binge drinking,” says Erin O’Loughlin, a co-author of the study and researcher with Concordia’s Independent Program (INDI) and Department of Exercise Science. “While they do know when they are wasted, the reality is that four consecutive drinks per sitting for a woman and five for a man constitutes binge drinking. And that means society is more tolerant of binge drinking than we think.”

In many cases, parents will turn a blind eye to the sons and daughters consuming alcohol, especially around the holidays. Many parents, who observe their children binge drinking, think that binge drinking is something that teenagers will grow out of – sadly that is not always the case.

“Parents should be aware that if their teenager is binge drinking, they are more likely to sustain binging later in life,” says O’Loughlin. “This challenges the belief that being exposed to alcohol early on means they will be protected from alcohol-related problems when they grow up.”

“But just as a parent would never give their child a cigarette to try, the same view should perhaps apply to alcohol. Delaying that first taste of alcohol might be the best thing you can do — even if it’s New Year’s Eve.”

The findings were published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

Based on materials from Concordia University