If you have concerns about your student
Some individuals begin to experiment with alcohol and drugs as young as 14 years old. Even if your student has not tried alcohol or used drugs before college, many may try substances for the first time in college. The first 6 weeks of college is a period of adjustment that is critical to student success. Students may engage in risky behaviors as they learn new rules, set their own boundaries, and have new situations that change their normal limits of use. Having a conversation early and following up is a key part of what you can do to help. These conversations should include not just family values and beliefs regarding drinking, but also what is safe and responsible versus binge and dangerous drinking.
Substance Use Indicators
If you notice any of the following, consider having a conversation with your student regarding how they are doing. These may be indicators of potential substance experimentation or misuse:
- Significant changes in personality or behavior
- Not following through with responsibilities
- Challenges coping with stress or their mental health
- Family history of alcoholism or addiction
- Significant changes in friends
- Being secretive
- Physical signs like changes in weight, sleep, and physical appearance
Substance Use and Relationships
Enabling vs. Support
Enabling is doing for your student what they can and need to do for themselves. This may include blaming yourself or others for their behaviors or making excuses for their behavior.
Support is helping your student make steps towards change. This may include holding them accountable for their actions and being a listening ear.
Parental Reluctance to Talk with Student About Drinking
My student is not interested in drinking.
Over 90% of students try alcohol outside the home before graduating from high school.
My student has learned about the negative effects of alcohol in school.
Although most students do learn about alcohol in their classes on health, we have found that many important issues never got covered.
At this point my student should know better.
Unfortunately, the reality is that many students at this point in their lives are still uninformed about how powerful a drug alcohol can be.
My student won’t listen at this point.
The results of the American College Health Survey revealed that parents were the number one source that students turned to for important information.
Marijuana Frequently Used Terms
Many accidental deaths occur from mixing alcohol with other drugs. Even drugs that you can buy without a prescription, such as aspirin or cold remedies, can change the way alcohol acts on the body.
Alcohol (beer, wine, liquor) mixed with:
Extreme drowsiness, decreases effectiveness
Antihistamines Extreme drowsiness, causes temporary depression
Stomach and intestinal bleeding
Extreme slowing of brain activities, breathing slowed down or stopped
Non-Narcotic Pain Killers
Stomach and intestinal irritation or bleeding
Sedatives & Tranquilizers
Extreme slowing of brain activities, breathing slowed down or stopped, heart slowed or stopped
Here are beliefs that many students hold which are NOT true:
- Black coffee will help you become sober
- Exercise will help you become sober
- Eating food will help you become sober
- Taking a cold shower will help you become sober
- Fresh air will help you become sober
- A quick walk will help you become sober
- Going from dark lighting to bright lighting will help you become sober
- Drinking milk before drinking will allow you to drink as much as you want
- Putting a penny in your mouth will lower your BAC
These myths are important to dispel because students may decide to drive drunk after engaging in such activities, thinking that the activity has “sobered them up.” In fact, the activity only creates a temporary illusion of sobering up and in some instances increases drunkenness.