Parent Concerns About College Students, Drugs, and Alcohol

Drugs and alcohol

In the United States, it is illegal for anyone under 21 years of age to possess, buy, or consume alcoholic beverages. However, this is a law that is difficult to enforce and as a result many American youths (under the age of 21) do drink alcohol. Also, many college students drink excessively and with the intention of purposely becoming intoxicated. This is a problem at many college campuses because undergraduate students are away from their parents' supervision and have access to older students who can provide them with alcohol. Also available at college campuses are various types of illegal drugs. Some illegal drugs (such as marijuana) may be even more easily available to underage students than alcohol.

While many colleges are taking several steps to control alcohol and drug use by students, parents must take much of the responsibility for protecting their children. The most important thing that parents can do is to discuss the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse with their children before they leave home for school. Here are some suggestions on how to address this very serious topic:

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Discuss alcohol-related statistics with your children: 95% of violent crimes and 80% of acts of vandalism on school campuses are alcohol-related.

Talk about activity options (ways that they can spend their free time) that do not involve alcohol. Encourage them to become involved with campus groups and clubs that promote healthy lifestyles.

Talk about how to avoid college parties that are known to provide easy access to alcohol and drugs.

Let your children know that excessive drinking (also known as "binge drinking") can be fatal.

Let them know that alcohol and drug use can potentially lead to violence, sexual assault, bad grades, even a permanent criminal record.

The U.S. Department of Education has developed the Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention to help parents address alcohol and drug issues with their children before they leave for college. This center has a website that is full of useful information, including descriptions of what some colleges and universities are doing to raise awareness about alcohol and drug use on their campuses.