*The following is excerpted from an online article from LiveScience.
A new study from the United Kingdom found that almost every teen who drinks alcohol has had at least one blackout, and many reported having them regularly.
Just 5 percent of the study participants -- who were surveyed about their drinking habits from ages 15 to 19 -- said they'd never had an alcohol-related blackout, Dr. Marc Schuckit of the University of California, San Diego, in La Jolla, and his colleagues found. They report their findings in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.
"A lot of kids are doing this somewhat regularly, they're doing it repeatedly," Schuckit said. While the study was conducted among British teens, who tend to start drinking younger and to drink more heavily than their U.S. peers, findings among American teens would likely be similar, he added.
Although many drinkers see alcohol-related blackouts as a source of amusement, they're no laughing matter, Schuckit said. "You are almost certainly so drunk that you are doing things that you wouldn't do if you weren't drunk."
Schuckit and his team looked at data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, an ongoing study of 8,000 children born in the early 1990s. In the new study, the researchers looked at data from 1,402 adolescents who reported drinking alcohol. They were surveyed about their drinking at age 15, age 19 and on two other occasions in between.
The researchers found that 30 percent of the study participants reported having blackouts at age 15 and 74 percent said the same at age 19.
The researchers also identified four "trajectories" of alcohol blackouts, or paths that teens seemed to be on over time, in terms of their blackouts. For 44.9 percent of teens, the number of their blackouts slowly increased with age, whereas for 29.5 percent, the number of blackouts they experienced increased quickly as the teens got older. Another 20.5 percent of teens reported having blackouts consistently at all time points. Just 5.1 percent had no blackouts at any time point.