PARENTS NEED TO DISCUSS COLLEGE DRINKING DANGERS
Recent studies show that every year more than 1,400 college students die because of alcohol poisoning, drunk driving, dangerous pranks and other risky behaviors – all involving alcohol. And, almost half of those killed are freshman.
One study that surveyed more than 30,000 first-year students on 76 campuses who took an online alcohol education course in the fall of 2008 suggests nearly half of college freshmen who drink alcohol spend more time drinking each week than they do studying.
The rapid increase in heavy drinking over a relatively short period of time can contribute to serious difficulties with the transition to college. As the fall semester begins, parents can use this important time to help prepare their college-age sons and daughters by talking with them about the consequences of excessive drinking.
Evidence suggests that the first 6 weeks of the first semester are critical to a first-year student’s academic success. Because many students initiate heavy drinking during these early days of college, the potential exists for excessive alcohol consumption to interfere with successful adaptation to campus life.
During these crucial early weeks, parents can do a variety of things to stay involved. They can inquire about campus alcohol policies, call their sons and daughters frequently, and ask about roommates and living arrangements. They should discuss the penalties for underage drinking as well as how alcohol use can lead to date rape, violence, and academic failure.
Many schools have wellness groups on campus and students can be encouraged to participate or to consider special wellness housing if it is an option at their choice of school.
Research shows that adolescents may be more vulnerable to brain damage from excessive drinking than older drinkers. Alcohol impairs brain activity in the receptors responsible for memory and learning, and young people who binge drink could be facing serious brain damage today and increased memory loss in years to come. If one begins drinking at an early age, he/she is more likely to face alcohol addiction.
Most schools offer courses to teach freshman how to be safe. You can help by reminding their child of what your hopes are for their behaviors rather than telling them what not to do. All the years that you have been there, and helped them and instilled them with values – that’s what is going to be important.