The college years are a time when teens develop greater independence and begin exploring the paths that they will take through adulthood. With greater freedom and less parental supervision, it’s also the time for parties, experimentation with drugs and exposure to friends’ risky behaviors. It’s simply a fact that alcohol is widely available on the vast majority of college campuses. The combination of availability of alcohol (and drugs) and the realities of campus life is enough for some teens to cycle into addiction.
Could College Life Increase The Chances Of Addiction?
Sending a teen off to college is both a moment of pride for parents and filled with worry. It’s certainly not uncommon for parents to be concerned with their child’s new found freedom. There is ample reason to be concerned about alcohol abuse. In fact, current statistics clearly show that the college years can be especially risky – especially for those who have a family history of addiction.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, four out of five college students drink alcohol, and half also consume alcohol through binge drinking. While these two statistics are alarming enough, there is even more reason to be concerned. About 25 percent of college students report an impact on their academics caused by drinking, including missing classes, falling behind and doing poorly on exams. There are also higher rates of assault, sexual abuse, injury and suicide attempts as consequences of drinking.
Taking A Proactive Approach To Alcohol During The College Years
As a concerned parent, there are some strategies that can go a long way toward preventing many of the risks associated with college drinking. First, it’s important to have an ongoing dialog with your child about the dangers of alcohol abuse and addiction. Talking to kids openly about how alcohol can affect physical and mental health can plant a seed that the risks are far greater than the rewards of getting drunk at a frat party. It may even be worthwhile sharing stories from your college years so that they understand that you’re not perfect and that you may even have regrets over actions that resulted in negative consequences.
Another strategy that can help is to meet your child’s college friends. Visiting campus, you can quickly determine if your child is making friends with students who are focused on studies or on partying. Also encourage your child to get involved in campus activities and new hobbies and interests. With a busy schedule, there will be less time for hanging out at the campus watering hole or partaking in parties with large volumes of alcohol.
Is Your Child Showing Signs Of Addiction?
Even the most studious teen is at risk of alcohol abuse on a college campus. If you suspect that alcohol could be playing too important of a role in your child’s life, the first step is looking for signs of possible abuse. There are a number of telltale signs that an alcohol (or drug) problem may be developing:
An Unexpected Drop in Grades – Even students who historically have straight “A”s can fall into alcohol abuse. While some students continue to get good grades despite abusing substances, most will find that their grades suffer.
Moodiness – Depression and irritability often go hand-in-hand with alcohol abuse. If a child seems unusually moody, it may be time to ask about drug or alcohol use.
Increase in Spending – If you’re footing the bill for college, it is wise to provide your child with a joint bank account so that you can see transactions. One of the key indicators of an increase in substance abuse is greater spending.
School Disciplinary Actions – If there are warnings or disciplinary measures, this is a big red flag that your child may be heading down the path to addiction.– If there are warnings or disciplinary measures, this is a big red flag that your child may be heading down the path to addiction.
What Should You Do?
If you’ve discovered that your college student is abusing alcohol or drugs, it’s wise to speak with their college counseling office to determine available resources. On some campuses, there are sober dorms, 12-step meetings and even alcohol-free social events that can help keep your child away from alcohol. Of course, the problem may warrant professional treatment.
Alcoholism and drug abuse are not conditions to take a “wait and see” approach with. It’s wise to work with a professional to find the best option for treatment. At Addiction Treatment Services, we are focused on finding the right treatment center for individuals suffering from addiction and their families. Call us now to learn more.