Younger Girls Binge Drinking More

Two years ago, Rebecca Neff was a model student, on the honor-roll, on her high school softball team in suburban Columbus, Ohio.

She was also part of a troubling trend: the alarming growth in binge drinking by girls under the age of 15, reports CBS News correspondent Randall Pinkston.

"A lot of people in my school were doing it to fit in," said Neff as she recalled her first drink. "You could get drunk and not care what you did. Not care if you hooked up with a guy and ran out in the street naked.

Today, at seventeen, Neff is a recovering alcoholic. She recalls moving quickly from her first drink to bingeing, downing shot after shot of hard liquor for one reason.

"We wouldn't drink cause it tasted good, we wouldn't drink just to get a little tipsy, we'd drink to get drunk," said Neff. "We filled up rows of shot glasses with eighty per cent rum. We just downed these shots."

By age 15 approximately half the boys and girls in America have had a whole drink of alcohol, according to a report by the U.S. Surgeon General.

While binge drinking is going down, there's been a big change between the ages of 12 and 14, where girls are drinking more than boys, reports Pinkston. The Centers for Disease Control call that an alarming trend.

"There are a multitude of dangers," said Jacqueline Miller a medical officer for the CDC. "Drinking and driving; being more likely to be sexually active; more likely to be engaged in sex without protection; more likely to be in physical fighting; more likely to have sexual abuse; more likely to use drugs."

Rebecca encountered all these dangers as she sank into a scary world.

"I got involved with cocaine," she said.

In the midst of your alcohol and drug abuse were you also involved in sexual activity with guys?

"Yes," said Neff when asked if she got involved in sexual activity with guys. "I lost all my money doing drugs and that was a way if you didn't have money that was another way to get drugs."

"I can't even say — that's how big it was," said Neff when asked where she was hooking up with these people. "It was in the slums I guess. It was not good. You know guns in your bag in case someone tried to mug you."

Recent studies show the biggest influence on whether teens drink is how much parents are involved in their lives. But Rebecca's parents, Tom and Marie, who both work at home and rarely drink, kept a close look on their daughter.

"You're told of all the things to look for — changes in attitude, changes in friends, dropping grades, all that kind of things," said Marie, Rebecca's mother. "There just wasn't any of that. I guess the only thing I would say is hold the reins tighter. Be suspicious."

"They were perfect examples as parents, but when you get mixed in with all that peer pressure from high school you kind of forget everything you've learned," said Rebecca.
  • Alfonso Serrano

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