College students will arrive or commute to campus this fall to learn, experience new friendships, and make memories that will last a lifetime. Unfortunately, it can also be a time of harmful and underage drinking and dealing with its aftermath. Among college students who drank during the past year, 32.0% did something they later regretted, 26.9% forgot where they were or what they did, 20.4% had unprotected sex, and 12.1% injured themselves (American College Health Association, National College Health Assessment, Fall 2017).
The first six (6) weeks of freshman year are a vulnerable time for harmful and underage college drinking and its consequences because of student expectations and social pressures at the start of the academic year. Research shows that students who abstain from drinking often do so because their parents discussed alcohol use and its adverse consequences with them. Massapequa Takes Action Coalition reminds parents to stay involved during these crucial early weeks:
· Talk with your young adult about the dangers of harmful and underage college drinking—such as the penalties for underage drinking, and how alcohol use can lead to sexual and other violence, as well as academic failure and other adverse consequences;
· Reach out periodically and keep the lines of communication open and stay alert for possible alcohol-related problems;
· Remind your child to feel free to reach out to you and share information about their daily activities, and to ask for help if needed;
· Learn about the school’s alcohol prevention and emergency intervention efforts; and
· Make sure students know the signs of alcohol overdose or an alcohol-related problem, and how to help.
The most recent statistics from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) indicate that drinking by college students ages 18 to 24 contributes to an estimated 1,519 student deaths each year. In addition, there are an estimated 696,000 assaults by another student who has been drinking and 97,000 cases of sexual assault or date rape each year.
For parents who want to discuss the consequences of college drinking with their sons and daughters, resources are available at www.CollegeDrinkingPrevention.gov. Additional parent communication and prevention tips can be found at mtacoalition.com or Like MTAC on Facebook!