College Drinking Aug01

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College Drinking

It is no secret that abusive and underage college drinking is a problem on almost every college campus. Just type “college drinking” into any Internet search and thousands of articles on the subject appear.  Drinking at college has become a ritual that students often see as an integral part of their higher-education experience.  And don’t assume your child will not take part, even if you, and they, think they will not.  It is difficult to predict how the academic expectations and social pressures that first year will affect the choices our kids make.

At the Tufts University incoming freshman matriculation ceremony, we were surprised when the university president implored parents to speak, and speak often, to our kids about drinking and the dangers associated with excessive drinking.  Sound advice.

But how do you have the conversation? What do you say? Will they listen?  There is no formula, and there is no guarantee they will listen.  But make no mistake—they will hear you.  And the more you talk about it, no matter how annoyed they seem, the more it will become part of their thinking.  Just talk. Talk about responsibility while away at school with no supervision and much temptation. Talk about moderation.  Talk about consequences.  If there is a family history of alcoholism, talk about that.  And talk about the school’s alcohol policy, which can usually be found on the school’s website.

Kids going off to college, looking to have fun, be social, and meet new people, often don’t know their limits, particularly if they have never been exposed to drinking at high school parties or around the dinner table with family.  Most will learn the hard way – through their own experiences, which is always the best way to learn. It will be up to them, ultimately, to know when to stop and when to say no. Whether or not they take our advice, we need to be aware that drinking is happening everywhere and provide our kids with knowledge and support so they can make informed choices.

Want to know more? Take a look at:

NIH College Fact Sheet

Dartmouth In the Glare of Scrutiny on Drinking by Richard Perez-Pena (NY Times)

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