What your college student needs to know about alcohol
August 23, 2016 - Alcohol - 0 Comments
It is important to have some serious conversations with your children as you prepare for them to leave for college, including the risks and consequences related to drinking alcohol, regardless of whether or not your college student is underage. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, almost all students, whether they drink or not, are affected by college drinking. Approximately 80 percent of college students drink, with almost half of those binge drinking. While it might seem like a sophisticated or cool thing to do, excessive drinking during college can have significant consequences that will last much longer than your years at college.
Breaking the law
First, most college students aren’t of legal drinking age until their senior year. We will get into the physical and social risks of drinking, but there are also legal repercussions for underage drinking. Young adults who are caught drinking can face several punishments including revoked driver’s licenses, fines, community service, and enrollment in alcohol education programs. People who are caught driving under the influence (DUI) face even stricter punishments and lasting effects on some professional career tracks.
Young people who drink put their bodies and their health at risk. Young adults risk subtle brain damage from alcohol use while the brain is still developing as well as long-term brain function deficits, as well as physical problems including excessive weight loss or gain, headaches, sleep disturbance, skin issues, and digestive disruption. Younger drinkers are more likely to engage in reckless behavior, which can include driving while intoxicated, riding with an intoxicated driver, risky sexual behavior, unintentional injury due to impaired physical and mental capabilities, and increased chances of attempting suicide. In addition to the long-term health consequences, students who drink often suffer in the short term with hangovers, complete with headaches, nausea, and vomiting. Those who start drinking at an earlier age are also statistically more likely to develop addiction and alcohol abuse issues. They are also more likely to see medical conditions regarding the liver, kidneys and circulatory system.
Personal safety risks
The use of alcohol lowers a person’s inhibitions, enabling reckless, aggressive, and dangerous behaviors. For example, 11 percent of college-age drinkers have admitted to damaging property or pulling a fire alarm while intoxicated. It is also estimated that over 600,000 students are assaulted and more than 70,000 sexually assaulted by another intoxicated student each year. Many attacks, especially those of a sexual nature go unreported, so this figure could be much higher. While sexual assault is never the fault of the victim, often being intoxicated can lead to impairment to a young person’s ability to defend him or herself or to make safe decisions.
Alcohol use can also have negative effects on a student’s academic performance. Several national studies have shown a correlation between lower grade point averages and higher levels of alcohol consumption. While these studies have taken other factors such as academic aptitude, high school achievement, and other drug use, into account in varying degrees, many students struggle to balance newfound freedom, social activities, and academic responsibilities. Additionally, if a student gets into legal trouble for underage drinking or driving under the influence, it can have longer lasting effects on their professional opportunities. Many licensed professions require completely clean record and a DUI can prevent full licensure or acceptance to many jobs.
It’s essential to teach your kids about being responsible and respecting themselves. When they go off to college, they will have to make decisions on their own and need to understand the consequences of their choices. Parents should talk to their college-age children about making healthy and safe choices throughout adolescence, so that when they leave for a university you know they are equipped and ready to make good decisions, especially regarding alcohol.
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