With less parental monitoring and greater peer influence in college, the recipe could be disastrous for at-risk children
Los Angeles, CA (Vocus) August 27, 2009
Binge drinking on college campuses in the United States is on the rise, as are its consequences, such as drunk driving and alcohol-related deaths and injuries. With the new school year just around the corner, Promises Treatment Centers urges parents to talk to their children about the dangers of binge drinking, as well as be on the lookout for drinking-related issues after students head to college this fall.
According to a report from the US National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), drinking-related deaths among students aged 18 to 24 have increased steadily from 1,440 a year in 1998 to 1,825 in 2005. Forty-five percent of college students admitted to binge drinking in the past month, and 29 percent of students admitted to driving under the influence of alcohol.
In addition, recent studies are showing an alarming trend of women being arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Nationwide, 126,000 women were arrested for DUI in 1998—a number that climbed to 162,000 in 2007. This could be due to a societal change, with women being more likely to take risks and engage in binge drinking, especially in college.
Although an increasing amount of colleges are teaming up with local police and community members to curb college drinking, more needs to be done at home to educate young people on the devastating effects of binge drinking.
Dr. David Sack, CEO of Promises Treatment Centers, addiction treatment programs in Malibu and West Los Angeles, says that parents can help prevent their children from binge drinking in college by staying involved in their children’s lives and by talking to them about the consequences of drinking heavily.
"With less parental monitoring and greater peer influence in college, the recipe could be disastrous for at-risk children," Dr. Sack said. "Despite the immediate dangers of binge drinking, such as injury, drunk driving, fatalities, and risky behaviors that can lead to STDs and unwanted pregnancy, binge drinking at younger ages can lead to alcoholism later in life."
"The younger people are when they start drinking heavily, the greater the chance that they will exhibit alcohol-dependent behavior in college, such as driving under the influence, being injured while intoxicated, or having unprotected sex after drinking. And those behaviors, if left untreated, will continue into adulthood," he explained.
Parents can also set up a foundation for healthy behavior at home. "By encouraging your child to be challenged academically during high school, as well as to participate in sports or extracurricular activities that are supervised by adults, you are setting up a strong foundation for your child’s success later in life, as well as markers that will help gauge substance abuse," he said.
"For example, if your son’s grades plummet once he enters college and he loses interest in the activities he used to excel at in high school, you should be on the lookout for problem drinking." Dr. Sack urges parents to take a proactive role during this time. "Chances are, if you suspect an issue, it is usually much worse," he said.
Another important aspect of preventing college binge drinking is developing a strong, trusting relationship with your children. A Swiss study found that out of 364 teenagers, only those who reported a later drinking age and a strong relationship with their parents had the lowest risk of developing drinking problems.
"Research has shown that teens who have a strong relationship with their parents are less likely to develop problems with alcohol," said Dr. Sack.
If you suspect your child is abusing alcohol regularly, consider getting him or her into counseling or treatment. Promises can also help concerned parents find an appropriate referral in their area.
Promises Treatment Centers has addiction treatment programs in West Los Angeles and Malibu, California. Promises is part of Elements Behavioral Health, which aims to fill the gaps in mental health treatment between inpatient and outpatient psychiatric services; in co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders; and between traditional and alternative settings to help clients that are underweight or overweight due to eating related and other issues. The goal is for full recovery and well being with permanent life change and life style improvement and not just symptom reduction. Our focus is not only on the patient, but on the health and support of the family system. For more information about Promises Treatment Centers visit http://www.promises.com or call 866-466-1276.