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SAP Bulletin 2: Binge Drinking in High School

Student Assistance Programs (SAPs) Bulletin 2 Binge Drinking in High School is designed to support school administrators and personnel, non-profit organizations, and agencies who are involved with SAPs.

Student Assistance Programs: Helping to Close the Achievement Gap


Binge drinking is a serious problem among California high school students. Binge drinking is the rapid consumption of five or more drinks (such as five one-ounce shots of liquor, five 12-ounce beers, or five glasses [five ounces each] of wine in a short time period). The California Healthy Kids Survey (CHKS) and California Student Survey indicate that approximately one-quarter of our grade eleven students and more than one in 10 of our grade nine students report binge drinking at least once a month.

Furthermore, students who binge drink report poor school performance, emotional issues, and involvement in inappropriate social behaviors (including school violence, fights, and property destruction) much more frequently than non-binge drinkers and non-drinkers. Left unchecked, many of these young binge drinkers go on to become problem drinkers in college and as young adults. For many, their drinking will evolve into alcohol dependence or abuse.

How a Student Assistance Program Can Help

Student Assistance Programs (SAPs) offer clear intervention approaches to help binge drinkers recognize that their drinking is a problem and to support its resolution.

  • First, SAPs can implement universal prevention efforts to educate the entire student body on the problems associated with alcohol use and binge drinking and increase awareness of the assistance available through the SAP.
  • Second, SAPs can focus on selected groups of students (grade eleven students, for example), when CHKS data reveals high levels of binge drinking.
  • Third, and most importantly, students who binge drink can be identified and recruited to participate in the SAP.

SAP activities can include brief intervention approaches or other forms of group and individual counseling. Careful screening and assessment helps tailor the intervention to the individual. Youths with severe drinking problems or associated needs can be referred by the SAP to outside treatment services.

Additional Information  

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Questions: Hilva Chan | | 916-319-0194 
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, April 28, 2015

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