According to a national survey, nearly 60 percent of college students between the ages of 18 and 22 admitted drinking during the previous month. Given that the legal drinking age is 21, that’s a problem.
Almost two thirds of the students surveyed admitted binge drinking during the same period.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), drunk driving and other negative behaviors related to alcohol are a real problem on college campuses. The agency says that every year, around 3,360,000 students between 18 and 24 get behind the wheel after drinking too much. Many colleges and universities have nearby bars which can expose students to fake ID charges, underage drinking charges, and drunk driving arrests.
Other prevalent, alcohol-related problems on campus include assault and sexual assault victimization, alcohol use disorder, physical and mental health issues, property damage, police contacts and academic consequences. Both school-based discipline and arrest are a real possibility.
How can parents help prevent their college students from engaging in heavy drinking and getting in trouble? Here are a few tips to consider:
•· Keep the lines of communication open between parents and teens. The most effective relationship is one of trust and honesty on both sides.
•· Check in frequently with the young person and ask how they are doing. Discuss whether they are feeling any pressure to drink.
•· Be engaged with their academic progress. If their grades start to fall, tactfully address the issue.
•· Be on the lookout for signs of depression, anxiety and any form of substance abuse. Encourage the young person to seek professional help if needed.
•· If your college student is arrested or charged with a crime, try not to overreact or be accusatory. Instead, listen calmly and approach the matter sensitively. People do make mistakes. It’s important to learn from them, but also to take action to minimize any negative consequences. When alcohol is involved, it isn’t always possible to avoid criminal charges altogether, so you should consider contacting an experienced criminal defense attorney.
You may also wish to discuss reasonable goals for your child’s education and behavior before he or she heads off to school. This can help build a relationship of mutual respect.
The trusting relationship you build may not altogether stop your child from drinking. If things begin to get out of hand, however, it’s important for your child to know they have someone to talk to who will be supportive and help them solve the problem.