Despite how progressive or informed we as parents are, the fact is that drugs and alcohol on campus are more common than even we think.
•College students drink an average of 5.81 alcoholic beverages per week.
•25% of all college students report academic problems because of alcohol use.
While our first choice as parents may be to urge our students not to drink, this isn’t always realistic. What we can do is continue the conversations we began in high school about how intoxication by drugs or alcohol decreases inhibitions, increases aggressiveness and impairs judgment. Moreover, studies suggest that college students tend to overestimate the level of drinking among their peers, potentially leading them to drink at higher levels.Together with your son or daughter, discuss ways they can enjoy a social or athletic event responsibly and legally.
• The more a student drinks the lower his or her overall GPA is likely to be.
All colleges and universities have codes of conduct and policies regarding behaviors and expectations. As part of this code, each campus has a policy that addresses alcohol use. This policy will include information about the national legal drinking age of 21. When you attend orientation, ask about alcohol policies and how they are enforced, including any parental notification policies that would come into play if your student violates a policy.
If your child feels pressure to drink but prefers not to, provide a “face saving” way to participate in parties. A club soda – or any non-alcoholic drink – with a lemon or lime looks like a cocktail.
If during the transition period your son or daughter has a difficult time adjusting to school or is preoccupied with parties, you must respond. Express your concern and remind your child of the mutual expectations you discussed before school began. Ask what else is going on — perhaps they are trying to cope with a problem, such as loneliness, fear of failure or depression. Encourage your child to take advantage of the many campus resources available to help.
Drug and alcohol abuse are a common symptom of many mental health conditions like depression, ADHD, bipolar disorder and anxiety disorders. If you sense your child is having a problem with drugs or alcohol or may be self medicating, make sure to address the cause of the problem and not just the behavior. Substance abuse and emotional issues are a dangerous combination. Click here to learn more about the signs of distress.
Sources used in this article: American College Health Association Survey data (2007), Harvard School of Public Health survey.