Historically, teenage boys drank more often than their female peers. Recently, local survey data has shown that trend may be changing in Cortland County.
According to the 2019 Cortland County Youth Development Survey of 2,000 students, the percentage of females, across all grade levels, who report using alcohol at least one time in the past 30 days (22.6%) is higher than the percentage of males (19.3%). In addition, when looking at sex and age, the surveyed group that was most likely to report binge drinking in the past 30 days were 17 to 18 year old females.
How Alcohol Affects Girls Greater Than Boys
Alcohol impacts girls and boys differently because of biological differences. This means that girls can experience more negative consequences from drinking.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, "Women appear to be more vulnerable than men to many adverse consequences of alcohol use. Women achieve higher concentrations of alcohol in the blood and become more impaired than men after drinking equivalent amounts of alcohol. Research also suggests that women are more susceptible than men to alcohol-related organ damage and to trauma resulting from traffic crashes and interpersonal violence. "
Based on survey data, not only are a higher percentage of teenage girls in Cortland County reporting drinking than teenage boys, but they are also more likely to report negative personal consequences due to drinking in the past year.
In 2019, a higher percentage of Cortland County 11th-12th grade girls reported negative personal consequences (blacked out after drinking, got into a situation they regretted, been hungover, sick to their stomach, threw up) due to drinking alcohol in the past year compared to male students, except for having problems with school or work and getting into a physical fight.
Notably, the survey also found that Cortland County girls in grades 11-12 were twice as likely to report getting into a situation they regretted after drinking in the past year compared to boys.
Alcohol Prevention For Teenage Girls
Reasons for alcohol use can differ for girls and boys, and girls face distinct challenges, such as higher rates of depression and misperceptions about peer drinking behaviors. The survey shows that girls in Cortland County are more likely to overestimate peer drinking than male students, which can cause them to drink more to achieve a perceived norm. Teen girls in Cortland County are also almost twice as likely than boys to report feeling sad or depressed on most days in the past year.
For these reasons, it is important for parents to pay close attention to your child's moods and mental health needs while addressing their worries and stresses, and to also be aware of your child's friends, as well as how they spend their time together. Parents also need to be aware that teen girls may be more likely to use alcohol to cope with problems, so those needs must be addressed by other, more healthy means.
Finally, one of the most important things you can do is talk with your child about alcohol. Set clear rules and consequences for alcohol use and communicate the consequences of drinking alcohol, especially girls. Keep in mind that alcohol use affects teens of all ages and genders.