How to Manage the Issue of Drinking in College With Your High School Senior

Many parents worry that when their adolescents go off to college they will lose all control and begin experimenting with substances that they were not allowed in high school.

According to Jeff Wolfsberg, author of the new book “Message in a Bottle: Questions from Parents About Teen Alcohol and Drug Use” and a drug education specialist and speaker advocating for prevention and early intervention of adolescent substance abuse, there is good news and bad news about college drinking trends.

Bad news is that students drinking on college campuses are drinking more. However, the good news is there is an increase in students who abstain completely from alcohol or drink moderately.

Additional good news is more and more colleges are taking the issue of underage drinking and dangerous alcohol use seriously. Higher education is developing comprehensive prevention strategies that are making a difference like Social Norms, Brief Interventions and Alcohol Screening.

Because of the fear that their children will be overwhelmed in college with the temptation to over-drink, many parents have started to use a dangerous prevention strategy. More parents believe that allowing their high school senior a little rope regarding their drinking will give them the experience to practice safe and responsible drinking in college.

According to Wolfsberg, “this parent strategy is not a good idea and can have dire consequences. My professional experience as well as the research on college drinking does not support this hypothesis to be true.”

Wolfsberg continues, “what I have seen and research supports, is a no use message regarding alcohol use is best — as long as you can maintain it and have significant influence on your teen’s decision to drink or abstain. I say significant influence because while your teen is in high school you can have that amount of influence and should maintain it. Yes, it’s true, you lose control when they go to college, but while they are in your home during high school, why not maintain the healthiest standards possible that show the best outcomes? No use is considered the best choice.”

This blog piece came from Decoder.Drugfree.org, a parent-to-parent blog that tackles the real, everyday issues faced in raising healthy teens.

Another helpful site for parents worried about college drinking is http://www.collegedrinkingprevention.gov/

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