Binge Drinking Teenage Girls Can Black Out, Get Into Trouble

More than 90 percent of alcohol consumed by youths is through binge drinking.

ByABC News
March 26, 2012, 11:42 AM

March 26, 2012— -- After a few too many drinks, Holley, once a teenage binge drinker, was barreling down a highway at 90 miles per hour and running red lights. She said didn't remember doing it until she saw herself on film.

Holley's exploits are featured in the documentary "Faded: Girls & Binge Drinking," a movie about teenage girls who drink heavily because they feel enormous peer pressure to fit in. It offers a sobering message for unsuspecting parents and for teenage girls.

According to several surveys, an estimated one in four teen girls don't just drink, they binge, meaning five or more drinks in one sitting. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said more than 90 percent of alcohol consumed by youths is through binge drinking.

Rebeccah Thomas said she had no clue her 17-year-old daughter Erin was secretly binge drinking, until one night Erin wound up at a party with older boys that she didn't know well and landed in a police station.

"I thought I'll just take a couple drinks, I'll relax, I'll get to know these people, but then it became one or two beers and that turned into I'll take another shot and another shot," Erin Thomas said. "I probably consumed about four beers and I want to say 10-13 shots."

With all that alcohol in her system, Thomas said she passed out. But that night she got into a car with her boyfriend, who was busted for drinking after being pulled over, and Thomas was taken into custody by police. Her mother Rebeccah got a heart-stopping phone call from a police officer.

"At first the officer said, 'are you Rebeccah Thomas and is your daughter Erin Thomas?' I just thought, 'oh my gosh is she dead?' The worst, that's where your head is. I was just panicked," she said.

Often binge drinkers aren't the college campus misfits. They are just as likely to be "good girls," who are under enormous pressure to fit in. Erin Thomas said she first began lying to her mother when she was in the eighth grade.

"It was about me wanting to make a decision and knowing that I wasn't going to be able to do anything unless I did it behind her back," she said. "I think one of the main things that I struggled with is trying to be independent at a young age."

Underage bingers will often secretly "pre-game," pounding back large quantities of alcohol before their school dance or a big game, where alcohol is strictly banned.

"You're encouraging each other, 'just do it, just, fast, just, here-and telling each other tips on how to drink it faster, so you don't taste it,'" Holley said.

Alcohol mixed with wild partying is featured in several teen movies, including the "American Pie" series, "SuperBad," "Mean Girls," and more recently, "Project X" -- Hollywood's take on a high school party run amok.

For girls, alcohol has the added danger of giving them courage to act out sexually, making them more vulnerable, and then providing an excuse for risky behavior the morning after.

"When the girls are drunk, and the guy starts to push it to that limit... but now my judgment is impaired, because I'm drunk, and I'm not going to feel comfortable saying no when he wants to take things further," Holley said.

During her 40 years as a pediatric trauma nurse at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland, Ore., Shelley Campbell said she has treated all sorts of ghastly consequences.

"About three-fourths of the injuries, all injuries [related to] falling, tripping over a curb, had alcohol on board," she said. "Or people heard there was a party, this happens frequently, and show up, and they can't get rid of them, and so we got knives pulled, we've got guns pulled, and then we have violence."