Discussing the Dangers of Alcohol Misuse with Your College-Aged Child

There’s lots of uncertainty surrounding the fall semester because of the COVID-19 pandemic. With all that’s happening, you may not be thinking about your child’s alcohol consumption. However, it’s important to remember that many college students are seeing the new semester as an opportunity to have new experiences. They want to make friends and enjoy time outside of the classroom.

While this is normal, the college experience is also characterized by underage drinking, binge drinking, and other problematic behaviors. The risks posed by the novel coronavirus mean that everyone needs to be more careful than they normally would be. Even if your child is an adult, you should still remind them about the dangers of alcohol misuse. Our Asheville alcohol rehabilitation professionals share their best advice below.

Why College Students Need to Be Even More Vigilant Now

Drinking may be an accepted part of college life but it’s important for students to know that alcohol impairs their mental acuity and reduces inhibitions. If they become intoxicated, they will find it almost impossible to physically distance themselves from others or wear a mask. If your son or daughter is underage, remind them that they shouldn’t drink any alcohol. If they are 21 or older, urge them to limit how much they consume. This should help them to follow the COVID-19 protocols set out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and their college.

Some students who head to college already have experience with alcohol. However, the extra freedom provided by this environment can cause them to drink more heavily or more frequently. Their time will be less structured, alcohol will be readily available, and they’ll talk to their parents and other responsible adults less. For a young person who was already struggling with alcohol use, the college scene can be particularly difficult to navigate.

The first few weeks of the semester can be especially challenging because of social pressure and a desire to fit in. That’s why it’s so important that parents provide support for teens or young adults. If you’re worried about your child, an addiction treatment professional can advise you on how to proceed.

Consequences of College Drinking

Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, alcohol use among college students was a cause for concern. The 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that 54.9 percent of full-time college students ages 18 to 22 had consumed alcohol in the previous month.

Meanwhile, 36.9 percent engaged in binge drinking. This is defined as consuming five or more drinks in about two hours for men and four or more drinks for women. Also, 9.6 percent of the students surveyed engaged in heavy alcohol use (binge drinking on five or more days in the previous month).

Both binge drinking and heavy alcohol use are more prevalent among college students than among individuals not attending college. Still, many parents are unaware of just how dangerous excessive drinking and underage drinking are. Furthermore, even if your child makes smart choices, they can be harmed if their friends don’t act similarly.

Drinking by college students between the ages of 18 and 24 contributes to approximately 1,519 student deaths annually. Statistics from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism also indicate that each year, there are around 696,000 assaults by students who had been drinking and 97,000 cases of sexual assault or date rape.

How Parents Can Help College Students

Don’t assume that you can no longer influence your child because they’re in college. Students who say no to drinking often do so because their parents discussed the potential negative outcomes with them. There’s a lot you can do to ensure you stay involved in your child’s life during those crucial first few weeks.

For example, you can:

  • Learn about the school’s efforts to control underage and problematic drinking as well as the emergency intervention protocols.
  • Talk to your child about the legal and academic penalties associated with alcohol misuse as well as the dangers of risky sexual behavior and violence.
  • Call them periodically and let them know you’re there to support them and listen out for any signs of alcohol-related problems.
  • Remind them they can talk to you about their daily activities and that they should ask for help if they need it.
  • Make sure they know the indicators of alcohol overdose and other alcohol-related problems and how they can help.

Contact Asheville Recovery Center if You Believe Your Child Needs Treatment

If it appears that your son or daughter is developing an alcohol use disorder, you need to seek help. You need to know how to broach the subject with them and there’s no better way than to learn that to enlist the assistance of professionals. Call the team at Asheville Recovery Center for guidance today.

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