As most parents know, college is fun. Likewise, most parents know that binge drinking in college can be hard to avoid. It is not something we often tell our kids because we do not want them to become binge drinking college students. We want them to avoid the mistakes, focus on their studies, and graduate with a degree they love. However, you also want to make sure unsafe drinking habits do not occur.
According to a national survey, almost 55 percent of college students ages 18-22 drank alcohol in the past month. At the same time, 1 out of 3 of them were binge drinking during that timeframe. If you are a parent of a graduating high school senior, these college drinking statistics might scare you. This is understandable, as binge drinking is unhealthy and puts the student at risk of harm.
What do I do?
This may leave you, as the parent of a college student, with several questions. If your child has a binge drinking problem, you may feel helpless trying to solve it. We can help you find a solution. Call 626- 602-2966 to speak with an addiction specialist who can help.
Continue reading below about the effects of binge drinking in college. If you require more information, then contact us about what to do if your child is binge-drinking at college.
- Binge Drinking 101
- Signs of Binge Drinking
- What Can Parents Do?
- Intervention on Campus
- Moving Forward
Binge Drinking 101
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, binge drinking “is a pattern of drinking that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels to 0.08 g/dL. This typically occurs after 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men—in about 2 hours.”
The 2-hour time period is something important to remember. Many students may be new to alcohol when they get to college. As a result, they may not realize how much they are drinking in such a short amount of time. This can lead to some unfortunate accidents.
Consequences of Binge Drinking
There is a list of some side effects binge drinking in a short amount of time can do to a persons body. These include:
- Falls – these are common when students drink and can be dangerous. Binge drinking can cause balance issues, especially in those who are new to alcohol. The lack of coordination usually makes them stumble and fall.
- Safety Risks – other safety risks include driving under the influence, being arrested, car crashes, injuries, and sexual assaults. Obviously, you want to protect your kids from these dangers.
- Physical Health – frequent binge drinking can damage the liver and other organs in the body. This is something students new to alcohol might be susceptible to as well. Nevertheless, those who know alcohol well can experience this too.
- Assault – 696,000 students between 18 and 24 are victims of assault by another student due to drinking, proving that drinking is not all fun and games.
- Sexual Assault – 97,000 students in the same age range were victims of date rape and sexual assault.
- Academic Struggles – about 25% of college students report that drinking affects their school performance. This includes missing classes, falling behind in class, and receiving lower grades.
- Addiction and Dependency – 20% of students meet the criteria for alcohol use disorder or alcohol dependency.
- Mortality Rate – 1,825 college students between 18 and 24 die yearly from alcohol-related injuries and motor vehicle accidents.
Signs of Binge Drinking
The consequences of binge drinking in college are severe. However, in order to avoid them, you need to watch out for the signs that your student is doing this. Although the list below might not encompass all the possible red flags, it is a good guide to how to spot binge drinking.
Going All Out on the Weekends
Even though your student may be getting to class and getting good grades, it does not mean they abstain from binge drinking. In fact, many students use their long weekend to drink heavily. Also, if you were to ask them if they were abusing alcohol, they will say they are not. This is because binge drinking is not a daily thing for them. However, just because it only happens on weekends does not mean binge drinking is not a problem.
Being Tired or Irritable
Let’s say that you call your college-level child on a Sunday morning. As you talk, they seem frustrated and give you attitude. This can be a sign of a long night of drinking the night before. In this case, it may be better to hang up, call a few hours later, and ask if they are okay. Those who binge drink have trouble sleeping and sometimes wake up irritable.
If your college student is binge drinking, they may lie to you. This can be because they do not want you to worry or because they do not trust you. Either way, they will feel guilty for doing so and show telltale signs that you as their parent can probably pick up on. Also, they may seem to worry more often, which can lead to further alcohol use.
Friends or Family Notice Changes
Those who are close to the student may notice changes. These changes can be behavioral, emotional, or physical, but will always give those close to the student cause to worry about them.
As previously noted, the grades of binge drinking college students may suffer as a result of their unhealthy lifestyle. If your child was a straight-A student in high school but is struggling in college, there may be a drinking problem or mental health crisis occurring.
Why Students Drink
College drinking is hard to explain concisely, as different students do it for different reasons. Most commonly, social anxiety plays a role in students’ binge drinking. According to the University of Minnesota website, “students often drink because they think alcohol makes it easier to meet other people, relaxes their social inhibitions, and helps them have more fun. Students commonly report that they believe alcohol: ‘breaks the ice’ for social conversations, increases making connections with peers and facilitates sexual opportunities.”
Despite this being a prominent reason, it is not the only one. Many students feel immense peer pressure. With some social groups, binge drinking in college is the norm. Couple this with the pressure behind being successful in school, it can be quite overwhelming. If you believe your student is drinking to self-medicate for this pressure, reminding them about the importance of self-acceptance can help.
If you are noticing signs of binge drinking in yourself, or someone you care for, then please reach out to us. Our professionals will help you figure out the best course of action to take. We can help you figure out how to talk to a loved one, and how to know what the best treatment option is for you or them. So call us today and let us help you start a better tomorrow.
What Can Parents Do?
For starters, you need to realize that they are living away from home. This means controlling where they go or who they are with is not going to happen. When you understand that your role is supportive, rather than disciplinary, you can begin to help. Here are a few tips:
- Talking to the student about the dangers of college drinking can help them. When you do this, make sure to mention the toll it takes on homework and relationships.
- Ensure that they read their school’s policy on alcohol. Most schools lay down a set of rules. Also, make sure they know the laws about alcohol in the school’s area.
- Provide support to them emotionally, especially in the first 6 weeks of school. New students feel vulnerable and may turn to drinking to help their confidence.
- Support the school in their alcohol prevention efforts. Also, teach the student about the school’s policy on notifying parents about drinking.
- Make sure they know the signs of alcohol poisoning and other alcohol-related issues. Hopefully, this information will help them avoid having such problems themselves, while knowing how to help someone who does.
Following these tips can help you and your student child avoid alcohol-related problems. Call us today and we can help you. Let us help you, help your child. Do not wait until it is too late. Let us help you today.
According to the American Psychological Association, prevention of alcohol use starts with knowing who is at risk. In fact, they write that “research indicates that those most at risk are incoming freshmen, student athletes and those involved in the Greek system. Studies also show that men tend to drink more on average than women — but women progress faster over time from alcohol use to abuse.”
Also, some personal characteristics can determine risk as well:
Personality factors, such as impulsivity and sensation-seeking, also contribute to risky drinking. . . Another factor appears to distinguish between students who drink a lot yet remain relatively safe and those who drink the same amount or less yet suffer the consequences: subjective intoxication. In other words, a student’s likelihood to get into trouble during or after drinking has as much to do with how drunk he or she feels as it does with how much he or she actually drinks.
Most notably, impulsivity is an indicator of risky drinking behavior. Also, students tend to get in trouble when they believe they are under the influence of alcohol. These findings are significant in helping with prevention efforts. However, knowing why a student drinks is a much bigger piece of the puzzle.
Alcohol and college students have a long history together. However, this history is made up of more than just having fun.
Why a student drinks can also reveal a lot about how problematic his or her alcohol use may become. . . While some students drink for social and environmental reasons, such as being at a party, others drink for emotional reasons, such as coping with a bad grade or a breakup. It’s the latter group — who may be turning to alcohol to handle another mental health problem such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression or anxiety — whose members are primed for long-term alcohol abuse.
For those students suffering from a mental illness, simply going to college puts them at risk. Furthermore, this risk is not limited to college; it is there for the student’s entire life. This, above all, makes prevention efforts extremely important. Stopping self-medicating behavior is typically best to do in a person’s youth. By understanding what binge drinking is, as well as what to watch for and how to recognize the signs, you are better equipped to prevent your child from engaging in it.
Sometimes, though, you will find that your prevention efforts came too late and the situation requires more drastic action. Let us help you prevent binge drinking as much as possible. Reach out to our experts today for more information about binge drinking, preventing binge drinking, and how to help someone who is suffering from binge drinking.
Intervention on Campus
Universities and colleges now have intervention services for binge drinking college students who are suffering from borderline alcohol addiction. Often, the BASICS intervention program is the key colleges offer to help these students. The APA website has this to say:
The intervention is used in varying forms by colleges nationwide when students come in for primary care or mental health services or are referred for an alcohol-related offense. BASICS gives students personalized feedback on their drinking behaviors, including comparing how much they drink with how much the average student on their campus drinks.
The BASICS program monitors college drinking behavior. It also uses intervention methods such as motivational interviewing to ask students fair, open-ended questions about their drinking. They do this to spur change in the overall culture. Individualized strategies are also part of this program, such as putting ice in drinks or assigning designated drivers. In turn, these methods have reduced how much college students drink and averted unfortunate consequences.
With colleges putting effort into prevention and intervention, schools are becoming safer every year. Also, when you talk to your child about what to look for and what consequences can occur, this will put them in a position to maintain their personal safety. Do you need help on how to talk to your child about binge drinking? Call us today. Our professionals can equip you with the tools you need to keep you and your child healthy and safe.
Knowing what to look for when binge drinking and college combine can help you identify, understand, and handle alcohol problems with your college-age child. Nonetheless, if you or your child need professional help, please call us at the number below. You will be on the line with an addiction specialist who can help you find all the treatment resources you need in your area. Do not wait, call today.
Written by Michael Tavernier
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