Parents aren't doing enough to prevent College Binge Drinking Epidemic UCLA psychiatrist Dr. Reef Karim says hands-on parenting can reduce campus drinking fatalities

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UCLA psychiatrist Dr. Reef Karim, speaking on NBC's Â?Today ShowÂ? Tuesday morning (9/21/04) said that parents must play a more active role to prevent binge drinking and other risky behavior when their kids are away at college.

UCLA psychiatrist Dr. Reef Karim, speaking on NBC's “Today Show” Tuesday morning (9/21/04) said that parents must play a more active role to prevent binge drinking and other risky behavior when their kids are away at college.

His interview on the news program comes in the wake of two co-ed deaths at Colorado colleges due to binge drinking. A recent study shows that excessive alcohol is on an epidemic rise on campuses across America. Nationally, 1,400 college students die each year from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, according to Harvard University.

Dr. Karim, an addiction specialist and pop culture/medical expert, said the increased social pressures at colleges require parents to be more proactive. “Families and parents can help prevent college binge drinking by first understanding the world in which they live and the specific pressures they encounter. We must respect and understand the power of the college subculture and our overall pop culture in order to really understand the dangers and harms associated with college drinking and behavior. We must help them assess the dangers.”

“I believe parents don't ask the right questions, or any questions, because they are both frightened and unprepared for the answers. Parents can't live in fear when dealing with their children.”

The Harvard study also said two out of five students binge drink at least once a week and that besides the deaths, another 500,000 are injured while 600,000 are assaulted by someone who is drinking. And according to the nonprofit group Drug Strategies, college students spend $5.5 billion a year on alcohol, more than they spend on non-alcoholic beverages and books combined. CNN reported that parents of college kids ranked binge drinking as their greatest fear as far back as 2001.

“Although binge drinking in college is usually associated with random acts of stupidity and/or peer bonding, it can sometimes be life altering when it challenges judgment or impacts the body's ability to function,” Dr Karim said. “It can affect the heart, liver, lungs or brain and is sometimes life threatening, as we saw with the two Colorado co-eds.”

Dr. Karim adds “When looking at college age drinking and drug use, we have to understand brain development; recent research shows that the neural connections of adolescent and college age brains makes them more vulnerable to impulsive and risky behavior due to a greater motivational drive for new experiences without a developed inhibitory control system. It's like having a car where you constantly step on the gas without having a fully developed brake.

“College is essentially a shift in dependency from parent/family to a peer based subculture full of good times and potential dangers. A student with a poor sense of self and identity along with a possible history of substance use in the family, genetics or mental health problem, is much more vulnerable to binge drinking and it's behavior.”

Dr. Karim is a psychiatrist and clinical faculty member of the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute. In addition to being an addiction specialist, he is a relationship therapist who works primarily with teens and young adults in looking at sex, drugs, mental health and relationships with a hybrid of pop culture and medicine.

He is also television host for Court TV's “House of Clues,” a psychological forensic reality show and an on-camera expert on the upcoming VH1 show "The Love Lounge." He is also been technical medical advisor and consultant to many feature films including "Thirteen," "Laurel Canyon," and "Lords of Dogtown."

Dr. Reef Karim is available for commentary and interviews on this and many subjects pertaining to sex, drugs, relationships and pop culture for young adults.

Media Contact: Nadine Jolson, Jolson Creative or (310) 614-3214

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