Although the majority of students come to university already having some experience directly or indirectly with alcohol, many student's consumption increases during the first year of post secondary studies. Post secondary students have higher binge-drinking rates and a higher incidence of driving under the influence of alcohol than their non-student peers.
The first 6 weeks of freshman year are a vulnerable time for students as they are moving away from many established protective factors (parents/caregiver support, peers, known community services and supports). The first few weeks on campus the students are seeking new protective factors - establishing new friendships with trustworthy peers, finding a community or group that has shared interests, navigating the campus community and beyond, making sense of their new roles and responsibilities as post secondary students. During this time the peer connections and the activities they choose to participate in during their free time can set the student's up for overall wellness and academic achievement.
Research shows that students who choose not to drink or drink in moderation often do so because their parents discussed alcohol use and its adverse consequences with them.
Parents can help by:
- Talking with students about the dangers of binge drinking - the impacts it can have on a student's academic achievement, relationships, finances, physical and emotional welbeing.
- Reaching out periodically and keeping the lines of communication open, while staying alert for possible alcohol-related problems.
- Reminding students to feel free to reach out to them to share information about their daily activities, and to ask for help if needed.
- Learning about the school’s alcohol prevention and emergency intervention efforts.
- Making sure students know signs of alcohol-related problems, and how to help.
Listed below are tools you can use as a parent to help your young adult prepare for the year ahead.