Spring break is here and many teenage girls may be tempted to take their first drink.
There’s reason to worry. The number of teens who use alcohol rose 11% from 2008 to 2009, according to a new report from the Partnership for a Drug Free America. Teens are drinking younger and more often.
In the 1960s, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, only 7% of girls reported having their first drink between the ages of 10 and 14. Now, 31% try alcohol before high school.
Here’s some of the science to share with teen girls:
* Girls have less water in their bodies than boys. Girls have a slightly higher proportion of fat to lean muscle tissue, concentrating alcohol more easily in their lower percentage of body water. This means they become intoxicated faster after drinking less alcohol.
* Girls have fewer enzymes to break alcohol down. Alcohol dehydrogenases are a group of seven enzymes that help break down alcohol so the body processes it. Girls have fewer of them, so it is not as easy for their bodies to metabolize the alcohol they drink.
* Girls are smaller and often weigh less than boys. When drinking the same amount as a boy, a girl will experience a quicker rise in her blood alcohol level, and she may stay intoxicated for a longer period of time. Girls who drink heavily can be at greater risk for alcohol poisoning because it takes less alcohol for them to get really sick.
* Girls often prefer sweeter, carbonated mixed drinks. Such drinks can speed up the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream.
If the science doesn’t sell girls on abstention or drinking less, here’s another reason. Boys don’t like it when girls drink heavily.
A Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, study found that seven out of 10 of the college-age women surveyed thought their male peers wanted them to have five drinks during social occasions, while the men preferred they drink half that or less.