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College Students and Drinking

What Every Parent Should Know

By

Updated December 13, 2012
Once a year a new group of young adults join the ranks of the free, breaking out of their parent's nests to explore the world on their own and join swarms of other young people on college campuses. This is a time for finding oneself, learning new things and meeting new friends. Unfortunately, for many college students, this is also a time for experimentation with alcohol and drugs, an ever-increasing problem on college campuses nationwide. As a parent of a college student there are things that you should know and actions you can take to help your child make responsible decisions and avoid many of the problems associated with drinking while they're away at school.

Every year approximately...

  • 1,400 college students are killed due to alcohol-related injuries
  • 70,000 college students are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape
  • 100,000 college students report being too intoxicated to remember if they consented to sexual intercourse
  • 2.1 million college students report driving while intoxicated
  • 110,000 college students are involved with law enforcement because of intoxication (either public intoxication or drunk driving)
  • 25 percent of college students suffer academic consequences because of alcohol-related problems
  • 31 percent of college students meet criteria for substance abuse and 6 percent for alcohol dependence

But is there really anything a parent can do when their son or daughter is so far away from home? Absolutely! It can all be summarized with this: Talk to your kids about making responsible decisions. The influence that a serious discussion about alcohol and its consequences or a phone call once a week to see how things are can make a difference for many young adults. At first they may blow you off and insist that you're bugging them but if you are persistent they may refer to your advice one day when they have a choice to make: responsible or irresponsible.

When talking to your kids act natural and treat them like the adult you want them to be. Avoid trying to get on their level by using slang or some crazy gimmick and remember that threats usually do not work. The best way to get through to them is to make them feel like, as an emerging, responsible adult, they are in control of their lives. Explain choices and consequences clearly along with what you realistically expect from them. One other thing to avoid during these conversations are memories of your own college partying days, unless you have a serious point about the consequences you faced, now is not the time to laugh it up about some "great kegger at the Phi Beta Epsilon house".

Here are a few more tips to help you and your college student in regards to drinking...

  • Let your son or daughter know that you're available if they need help, even if it is just to talk.
  • Talk about the facts of alcohol and effects of drinking as well as reasons not to drink.
  • Tell them how to find help on campus for themselves or a friend.
  • Make sure they know the penalties for underage or excessive drinking.
  • Stay in contact once school starts. Ask how they're feeling, ask about their experiences, roommates and friends and if they're enjoying activities and classes.
  • Understand the school's parental notification policy.
  • Try to add to their schedule at least one Friday class. Studies show that students who have no classes or activities on Fridays begin their weekend partying earlier than those that do.
  • Attend parent's weekends and events on campus.
  • Be vigilant for signs of abuse: lower grades, reluctance to talk about friends and activities, mood swings, etc.

This is a wonderful time for your children and they should be able to enjoy it. They will enjoy it more and get along better in the world after school if they learn and choose to be responsible now and know that their parents are always there for them.

Resources for this article and more information...

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  5. College Students and Drinking: What Every Parent Should Know

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