Parents Can Prevent Student Drinking Problems in College

As summer draws to a close, recent high school graduates are packing up and preparing for their first semesters in college. While there are many aspects of college to look forward to, like meeting new friends, college sports, and independence, parents should still be concerned about the dangers of college as well. Alcohol abuse in college is a major problem in university campuses across the country. Research proves, however, that when parents take an active intervening role in educating their students about the risks of heavy drinking, it can dramatically alter their behavior.

Parents of college students can help their children refrain from abusing alcohol with a few helpful tips. First, parents should begin education their students about the dangers of alcohol long before they enter college. Many students believe that every college student drinks, which only encourages them to drink to fit in. Parents should explain to their students that not everyone drinks. In fact, there are numerous other activities available in college and in the community that are rewarding, safe and are not alcohol-related. Also, parents should be sure to stress the legal and collegiate consequences of alcohol abuse, which could include arrest, expulsion from school, or a criminal record.

Next, parents should accompany their students on campus visits. This is a great time for parents to get directly involved in choosing which school their children will attend. During the visit, ask the tour guide or campus administrators about the alcohol policies of the college, and have them identify the dormitories that support substance-free environments and are supervised by resident advisors (RAs). Also inquire about the fraternities and sororities and their alcohol policies and infractions. This is very important as the drinking rates of college students are highest in Greek organizations. The first six weeks of college are the most crucial for students. Parents should pay careful attention to the activities and emotions of their students during this time. Speaking with them often, reminding them of the importance of good grades and discouraging bad behavior can offer students a sense of grounding during an uncertain time.

The statistics of alcohol related deaths, injuries and assault in college-aged students is astounding. Every year, around 2,000 students die from alcohol-related incidents, nearly 600,000 students are accidentally injured when under the influence of alcohol and around 100,000 students are victims of alcohol-related sexual abuse. Armed with these statistics and tips, parents can educate their college students about the dangers of alcohol abuse and prevent them from developing drinking problems during college.

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