Teens taking on new form of extreme drinking

February 3, 2012 4:17:18 AM PST
It's a reality more and more parents of teens don't even know is happening. Extreme teen drinking is a way teens think they can mask the obvious effects of getting drunk. The sneaky drinking can have dangerous results, but there's a way for parents to find out if it's happening in their home.

For teens, it's a covert thrill.

"I believe it's to, you know, 'cause you won't smell it and no one will find it," one teen said.

For parents, it's a shocking discovery.

"Am I shocking you?" we asked one parent.

"Yes you are," she said.

"Surprising you?"

"Yes, yes very much so."

We are protecting the identity of the teenagers. They are in recovery at Covenant House, a crisis shelter in Montrose for homeless and at-risk youth. These teens say they are all familiar with a growing trend involving alcohol...and it doesn't involve drinking it. It involves something much more dangerous, something much more alarming.

"I've seen like in the beginning school, girls go in the restroom and soak their tampons in a water bottle filled with vodka or whatever and put the plastic on and then shove it back up," one teen said.

From alcohol-soaked tampons to alcohol-soaked gummy bears, even alcohol-based enemas, the extreme ways to get drunk are disturbing and a growing phenomenon among teens.

"Maybe it is a quicker high. It's quicker than just letting it settle on you," another teen said.

"When it takes over your brain, you do anything for it now 'cause when you're hooked on it, you'll do anything for it," another teen said.

According to Students Against Drunk Driving, nearly three quarters of students -- 72 percent nationwide -- have consumed alcohol by the end of high school, and more than a third -- 37 percent -- have done so by eighth grade.

Dangerous risk-taking behavior among teens is not surprising to the experts, who say it's common for kids to search for new ways to get high. However, the damage alcohol can cause when directly infused into the body is profound and possibly fatal.

"What would happen, for example, if you had a colon rupture? What would happen if you had a vaginal bleed associated with it or let's say the alcohol ended up in your kidneys? We don't know what the effects of that is going to be long term," said Rebecca Anding, director of Sports Nutrition at Texas Children's Hospital.

Petrice Holmes, a licensed substance abuse counselor at Covenant House, says in her experience, teens chase the next extreme high for reasons ranging from curiosity to escaping a troubled reality.

"First of all, they're not afraid, so they're willing to go out and try new things and they'll be the first one to try it and think nothing of it," Holmes said.

So how should we talk to our kids about this disturbing new trend? Experts warn suspicious parent should ask questions, such as, "Are you using alcohol in any way?" Don't just ask, "Are you drinking?"

As for these teens, they're facing a new future based not on getting high, but based on more responsible thinking.

"I know I don't have to get high just to feel good and going to counseling, I don't have to get high to deal with my problems," one teen said.

Experts say no matter how teens abuse alcohol, the results are the same. Look for drowsiness, confusion and fatigue because these are indicators your teen could be abusing alcohol.