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Risky drinking is on the rise among young adults around the world, report shows
Risky drinking is on the rise among young adults even as overall consumption of alcohol declines. - photo by Kelsey Dallas
A new report on global drinking habits holds some troubling news: risky drinking is on the rise among young people, defined as men and women under the age of 35.

"In most countries, rates of binge drinking (downing five to seven drinks in a single session) and hazardous drinking (consuming at least 140 grams of alcohol per week for women or at least 210 grams per week for men) have remained basically flat over the last 20 years. But both types of risky drinking have become more common among teens and young adults," the Los Angeles Times reported.

Researchers, who compared drinking habits across the 34 member countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, noted that hazardous drinking increased among young men in the United States and in Switzerland and among all young people in Ireland and Germany. The U.S. also witnessed increasing rates of binge drinking among young people of both genders.

Additionally, the report showed that people are being introduced to alcohol at earlier ages. "In 2000, 56 percent of boys and 50 percent of girls had tried alcohol by the time they were 15. A decade later, the comparable figures were 70 percent and 57 percent," the L.A. Times reported.

Although policymakers might celebrate the fact that overall alcohol consumption has declined in OECD countries (dropping 2.5 percent over the last 20 years), researchers wrote that drinking continues to pose a serious threat to public health.

"Alcohol now accounts for a higher proportion of deaths worldwide than HIV, AIDS, violence and tuberculosis combined," they wrote.

In the U.S. alone, nearly 88,000 people die each year from alcohol-related causes, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

As The Washington Post noted in its coverage of the report, researchers hope the lengthy report will inspire government leaders to pass laws to reduce risky drinking, whether by raising taxes on the purchase of alcohol or imposing minimum prices.

But even without policy changes, parents can be proactive in addressing problem drinking with teens and young adults, according to the Mayo Clinic.

"Underage drinking isn't inevitable. You can encourage your teen to avoid alcohol by talking to him or her about the risks of underage drinking and the importance of making good decisions," notes one resource from the clinic.

Tips included discussing your own experience, sharing statistics, planning ways for your teen to resist peer pressure and allowing a young adult the space to share their own impressions.
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