Fall Semester -- A Time For Parents to Discuss the Risks of College Drinking

Aug 15, 2007, 01:00 ET from National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

    ROCKVILLE, Md., Aug. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- As college students arrive on
 campus this fall, it's a time of new experiences, new friendships, and
 making memories that will last a lifetime. Unfortunately for many, it is
 also a time of excessive drinking and dealing with its aftermath --
 vandalism, violence, sexual aggression, and even death.
     (Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20060828/DCM007)
     According to research summarized in a College Task Force report to the
 National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), the
 consequences of excessive drinking by college students are more
 significant, more destructive, and more costly than many parents realize.
 And these consequences affect students whether or not they drink.
     Statistics from this report, which were updated recently, indicate that
 drinking by college students aged 18 to 24 contributes to an estimated
 1,700 student deaths, 599,000 injuries, and 97,000 cases of sexual assault
 or date rape each year.
     Early Weeks Are Critical
     As the fall semester begins, parents can use this important time to
 help prepare their college-age sons and daughters by talking with them
 about the consequences of excessive drinking.
     Some first-year students who live on campus may be at particular risk
 for alcohol misuse. During their high school years, those who go on to
 college tend to drink less than their non-college-bound classmates.
 However, during subsequent years, the heavy drinking rates of college
 students surpass those of their non-college peers.
     This rapid increase in heavy drinking over a relatively short period of
 time can contribute to serious difficulties with the transition to college.
     Anecdotal evidence suggests that the first 6 weeks of the first
 semester are critical to a first-year student's academic success. Because
 many students initiate heavy drinking during these early days of college,
 the potential exists for excessive alcohol consumption to interfere with
 successful adaptation to campus life. The transition to college is often
 difficult and about one-third of first-year students fail to enroll for
 their second year.
     Parents Can Help
     During these crucial early weeks, parents can do a variety of things to
 stay involved. They can inquire about campus alcohol policies, call their
 sons and daughters frequently, and ask about roommates and living
     They should also discuss the penalties for underage drinking as well as
 how alcohol use can lead to date rape, violence, and academic failure.
     Resources Are Available
     For parents who want to talk to their college-age sons and daughters
 about the consequences of college drinking, a variety of helpful resources
 are available from NIAAA.
     A special guide for parents offers research-based information plus
 helpful advice on choosing the right college, staying involved during the
 freshman year, and getting assistance if faced with an alcohol-related
     The Task Force's award-winning website,
 http://www.collegedrinkingprevention.gov, features this guide along with
 links to alcohol policies at colleges across the country, an interactive
 diagram of the human body and how alcohol affects it, an interactive
 alcohol cost calculator, and the full text of all Task Force materials.
     Copies of all Task Force materials, including the parents' guide, may
 be ordered from this website or by contacting the NIAAA Publications
 Distribution Center, P.O. Box 10686, Rockville,MD 20849-0686.

SOURCE National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism