As homeschoolers, we have been sheltered by our parents over the course of our K-12 academic career. Heading off to college for the first time, we will be exposed to students of different ages and backgrounds, who may not have the same morals that we have been brought up with. So we have to be careful not to fall in with the wrong crowd or succumb to peer pressure, which may lead to underage drinking.
Dangerous binge drinking and consumption of alcohol is a major health and safety issue affecting college students on campuses across the nation. For many students, transition to college life combined with the availability of alcohol and the desire to fit in to their new surroundings can cause students to make bad decisions.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the first six weeks of a student’s first year in college are a vulnerable time for harmful underage drinking and alcohol-related consequences. Therefore, as we gear up for the fall semester, it’s important to take some time to remind college-bound teens about the dangers of underage drinking and how to make healthy choices.
Underage drinking can have severe effects on the physical, mental, and social health of young people. Some of the dangers of underage drinking include:
- Loss of brain volume, reduction in neuron size, frontal lobe damage
- Impaired judgment, memory, and concentration
- More likely to engage in risky behaviors
- Increased risk of physical or sexual assault, homicide, or suicide
- Driving under the influence of alcohol can lead to serious legal consequences
- Drunk driving can result in the death of you or others
- Alcohol poisoning, abuse, and dependence
There are several ways to prevent alcohol abuse in college. Here are a few of them:
- Educate yourself about what alcohol is, how it affects the body and the brain, and the negative health effects of drinking.
- Family involvement is key. Parents continue to be a strong influence once a kid is on campus. Keep the lines of communication open and engage in conversations about the actions one should take in order to stay safe.
- Friends should look out for each other and act as each other’s accountability partner. Having a trusted friend to back you up can help you to stay strong enough to say no.
- Get together with other students who desire to steer clear of alcohol. Have your own fun times engaging in sober activities and healthy alternatives to the party circuit.
No matter where you are or who you’re with, never let anyone pressure you to drink! Here are some safety tips:
- “If you didn’t pour it, don’t drink it.” Don’t accept any beverage in an open container, glass, or cup as someone could have spiked it with alcohol or a drug.
- Don’t drink from a punch bowl or from a container that’s being passed around.
- Don’t drink from a can or bottle that you didn’t open yourself.
- Don’t accept drinks from strangers. If someone offers you a drink, politely decline.
- If someone insists on handing you a drink, dump it down the sink when no one’s looking.
- Never leave your drink unattended while talking, dancing, using the restroom, or making a phone call.
Here is an infographic from FAAR, the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility: