BU ParentAlcoholHandbook


1 a parent handbook for Talking with College Students About Alcohol Rob Turrisi, Ph.D. Prevention Research Center The Pennsylvania State University

2 a parent handbook for Talking with College Students About Alcohol A Compilation of Information from Parents, Students, and The Scientific Community Rob Turrisi, Ph.D. Prevention Research Center The Pennsylvania State University © 2010 CO Productions Ltd. All rights reserved. Note: No part of this text can be used or reproduced without written permission from the author.

3 Table of Contents 7 Introduction ... Improving Communication in General ... 8 Communication Pointers ... 10 The Initial Conversation ... 11 Communication: The Short Response ... 12 13 Developing Assertiveness ... Talking About Alcohol ... 14 How Alcohol Works in the Body ... 15 Why Students Drink ... 17 Why Students Do Not Drink ... 19 Binge Drinking: Drinking to Get Drunk ... 21 Did You Drink When You Were a Student? ... 23 For More Information ... 25 A Parent Handbook for Talking with College Students About Alcohol 1


5 Introduction The Problem of Alcohol Consumption and Binge Drinking in College-Age Students Alcohol is the most misused and misunderstood drug in our society. Although college-age students are under the legal age for drinking alcohol, it is important to remember that A recent study of Bucknell’s former See box at left.) ( alcohol is the most widely used drug by this age group. first year students reported 42% One of the results of the misuse of alcohol in this age group is binge drinking. Sure, we engaged in high risk drinking. have all heard about “frat parties” and crazy spring break trips and assume that these NATIONAL SURVEYS SHOW: are just another part of the college experience. Although part of the college experience, binge drinking has been consistently associated with higher incidences of unplanned 10 out of 9 sexual activity, sexual and physical assaults, date rape, injuries, trouble with campus and experiment with alcohol local police, and alcohol-related driving injuries and fatalities. For example, consider this account from a college freshman: 7 10 out of drink regularly, and “My friend had a drinking contest with her boyfriend. They each 3 out of 10 had five shots of Wild Turkey, two beers, and then started a ‘power will be problem drinkers hour’ or ‘century’ - one shot of beer per minute for 60 minutes. My By the time males are 18 years old, 1 in 4 of them are considered to friend began falling down and looked ill. She laid down to go to be binge-type heavy drinkers (they sleep and began throwing up for two hours straight. She rolled drink once a week or more and have five drinks at one time). over and almost choked on her vomit.” This account from a college student is more common than you may believe. Episodes such as this can be avoided through parent-student communication. Time and time again we have heard some parents say, “There is just no use – they will do what they want anyway and don’t care what we say.” This grossly underestimates the influence that YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE! parents can have – Families are quite different from one another and we have written this handbook to reach a wide audience. Consequently, there may be some sections of the handbook that you can relate to better than others. This is okay. Not all families are the same and we tried to respect those differences. By reading this handbook and talking with your son or daughter, you have the opportunity to reduce the likelihood he or she will experience the negative consequences associated with binge drinking. A Parent Handbook for Talking with College Students About Alcohol 3

6 Improving Communication in General In this chapter, we discuss general issues about communicating effectively with your son or daughter. In all communication processes there are two important aspects: the style in which the material is presented and the content of the material. You may find that some parts of the chapter apply more to you than other parts. Beginning A Dialogue The first step in effectively talking with your ANGER ABOUT NOT FEAR OF HEARING student is simply getting the talking started. BEING TRUSTED A LECTURE Such conversations will not necessarily Some students interpret a request to Many students are open to talking but the occur in a single sitting, but often will talk as a sign that you do not trust them. last thing they want to hear is a one-way evolve over multiple times. As a parent Studies show that when teens lecture from their parents about right and you must take active steps to establish the feel they can trust their parents wrong. Studies show more drinking dialogue that is so important to both you and are trusted by them they tend goes on in teens who come from and your student. When the time is right, You will need to offer to drink less. homes where parents tend to you will want to suggest to your student reassurance that you are not suspicious lecture too much. that you would like to talk with her or him. and are doing this to help them, not attack Don’t expect your student to agree. In fact, Student Objection: them. many students will respond with a negative “I know what you will do if we talk. You’ll reaction. Student Objection: lecture me like you always do. Then if I “What’s the matter, don’t trust me?” argue you will interrupt me.” Here are some common negative reactions that students have when Parental Response: Parental Response: parents try to open a dialogue about “I trust you. But this is a very important “You’re right. This time I won’t lecture. I will sensitive topics and a few ways other issue and I think we need to pool the listen to what you think. I want to change parents find useful in dealing with information we know to make sure you deal things now that you are heading to college.” them: with everything effectively and that you know what to expect and what to do. To do that, we need to talk to each other.” A Parent Handbook for Talking with College Students About Alcohol 4

7 ADDITIONAL THE STUDENT THINKS THEY ALREADY FEAR OF CONSIDERATIONS KNOW IT ALL PUNISHMENT There are other objections that you might Some students don’t want to talk because Another common objection focuses on get, although these are the major ones. they think they already know everything Studies show fear of being punished. Sometimes you will hear more than one there is to know about a topic. Even though that when teens fear punishment they of them from your son or daughter. The students think they know everything, they communicate less often with their central themes in your response should be often do not. Don’t let this objection deter parents. In turn, these teens tend to that of about the student, wanting caring you in your pursuit of communication. drink more often and are more likely to understand the student, and wanting to experience alcohol-related consequences. Student Objection: the student, while at the same help to “I’ve heard it all before. We don’t need Student Objection: time respecting the student’s privacy and to talk.” “Sure, talk with you and you won’t let me go desire to be independent. The example out. Forget it.” parental responses we gave illustrated Parental Response: these themes. They may not work well “You probably already know quite a bit. It Parental Response: for your particular son or daughter and feel make me would better if we talked it “I promise that I won’t be that way. I will you may need to adapt them to his or through. Besides, it would help me to better listen to you. I’ll take what you say seriously. her particular personality. But if you have understand how things are different from I’ll be straight with you and you be straight open communication channels, you are when I was your age.” with me.” more likely to help your student. Most of all, be constructive in your responses, not defensive or angry. A Parent Handbook for Talking with College Students About Alcohol 5

8 Some Communication Pointers Here Are Some Do’s and Don’ts Studies Have Shown Make A Difference in How Students Respond: COMMUNICATE DIRECTLY LISTEN AGREE TO DISENGAGE Don’t talk about important things while Agree to temporarily stop if things don’t go Permit the person to speak without absorbed in another activity, such as interruption. Listen to what he or she says. well. Wait until both individuals can talk in a reading the newspaper, watching television, calm, direct fashion. Sometimes, it is good to paraphrase. “Let or doing the dishes. me see if I understand you. It sounds like USE APPROPRIATE you feel that...” With paraphrasing, you TRY TO APPEAL BODY LANGUAGE don’t agree or disagree, you interpret. TO COMMON GOALS How you position yourself as you talk can Students need to be reminded that you are VERBALIZE RESPECT send important messages about your on their side. Whenever possible, common Whenever you can and it is appropriate attitudes or possibly convey something you goals should be emphasized and should to do so, convey respect to the other are not trying to convey. serve as the basis for your guidance and individual (e.g., “I admire what you have AVOID DEBATE MODE recommendations (e.g., You both want done and how you are coping”). People Sometimes conversations become them to be healthy and safe). want to be respected and will be more structured so that people feel they willing to talk to those who respect them. AVOID COMMUNICATION “STOPPERS” must “defend” their position. The entire Tell your son or daughter you are proud of There are single statements that will close conversation turns to a mini-debate. If you them for being able to handle these tough anyone down (e.g., “Anyone who drives sense the conversation has turned into situations. drunk is crazy;” “No one in this family a debate, try suggesting that you both would ever consider doing that”). CHOOSE A GOOD TIME approach matters from a different angle. Also avoid statements that begin with “you” Choose an optimal time to bring up and CONFLICT IS NATURAL discuss problems. Don’t do it when (“You did this...”). They often make the Realize that conflict is natural. We are other person feel attacked. the other person is rushed or has a not identical to one another. We all have commitment elsewhere. Wait until you different beliefs and values, therefore both can have a relaxed, calm discussion. disagreement is a natural thing. We should Perhaps you could take your child to lunch use conflict as an opportunity for growth or out for some ice cream where you and for learning about each other rather could both sit down to talk and listen to than treating it as a negative experience. one another. A Parent Handbook for Talking with College Students About Alcohol 6

9 The Initial Conversation Most students have heard comments like “kids getting drunk is terrible” from other adults Be Prepared to Answer and from the media. You should NOT start your conversation with statements such as Questions About Your this. Keep your comments short and remember that you don’t have to say everything. Own Behavior This is the beginning of a conversation. It probably is best to begin with a statement that conveys open-mindedness and then ask your son or daughter questions and his or her If you truly establish a dialogue with experiences. Talk about your own experiences and opinions about how they have changed your son or daughter, then he or she will over the years. As you tend to open-up, so will your son or daughter. Keep distinctions probably ask you questions about your past between facts and opinions: “My opinion is...This opinion is based on facts. This opinion behavior. Did you drink alcohol when you is based on these experiences. This opinion is based on these observations.” were a student? If it was okay for you to do, why isn’t it okay for me to do? Did you Ask your son or daughter what he or she thinks. Listen while trying to ever get drunk? You need to be prepared understand, without defensiveness. Suspend critical judgment. Even if your to answer such questions and in ways student says what you want to hear (e.g., “I don’t drink now, let alone drink to that the student will not decide that it is get drunk”) don’t think that this means you don’t have to talk. Your goal is not permissible to drink.. just to reassure the student through talking but to help expand your student’s thinking. You want to help him or her deal with the range of experiences that Before initiating a discussion with your son or daughter is likely to encounter in college. your son or daughter, you should take some time to think about the kinds of Try to think of thought provoking questions that can be asked in a supportive, non- questions he or she is likely to ask you threatening way. For example: Do you know kids who drink a lot? How has it affected and what your responses will be. them? Have you ever been offered alcohol by someone you knew? (If so) what did you say? (If not) what would you say? What if someone really pushed you? What would you say if they said...Is there another side to this view? Do you see any risks? Do you have any concerns? Ask questions; don’t lecture! This is probably the single most important aspect of communication. People like to talk about themselves and their opinions. People like to explore logic and details. They do not like to be told what to think! A Parent Handbook for Talking with College Students About Alcohol 7

10 Communication: The Short Response A number of parents who we have Parents need to respect this and not force can create a time where you will have his or interviewed express frustration at their communication at a bad time. Let it drop her undivided attention. Perhaps taking him and bring it up later. Try to structure a time inability to get their son or daughter to talk or her out to a quiet dinner or some other to talk when the student is apt to be open at length on any issue. They swear that place where a “one-on-one” conversation their son or daughter has a vocabulary to it. Students are often tired at the end can be effectively initiated will work. of a hard school day or an athletic event, comprised mostly of “Okay, Mom,” “I and this may not be the best time to try to dunno,” “Whatever,” “If you want,” “Sure, okay,” “Not now,” when it comes to start a conversation. Or the student may parental conversation. Some students use be preoccupied with something else. Think about your student’s schedule and how you these responses when they don’t feel like talking because they are busy, tired, or simply not in the mood. Maybe the student thinks he or she is just going to hear yet another lecture from the parent. Maybe the student thinks that the parent will start nagging at him or her, yet again. The student may think the parent just doesn’t understand them. A Parent Handbook for Talking with College Students About Alcohol 8

11 Developing Assertiveness COMMON PRESSURE LINES When your son or daughter begins college it is likely that they will form Students are exposed to a wide range of pressure lines to try to get them experiment entirely new social groups. The most with drugs or alcohol. Here are some examples of what they might hear: influential reason why new students drink is because of social reasons. Friends can influence your son or daughter in Come on, everyone has tried it. You’ll have an incredible two major ways. First, there is active time if you do. social influence, which occurs when a If you won’t drink with us, then friend explicitly suggests that your son why are you hanging out with us? Come on, take a drink. It will or daughter engage in some behavior (e.g., “Let’s go get drunk”). Second, there get you in the mood. It’s all part of growing up is passive influences such as when they and being in college. Everyone is doing it. think everyone is doing it and that it is an acceptable thing to do. Part of reducing We drank once before, so what’s You’ve been working too hard. social pressure is not only helping your son or daughter resist active influence You deserve to go party. the problem now? attempts but also helping your student to put into perspective the fact that (1) You can study tomorrow. You will love it! not everyone is necessarily doing it, (2) even if people were, this does not make it right or a good thing to do, and (3) friends may respect your son or daughter for not “It’s just not for me, it’s not what I want” or Students need to develop adequate drinking. “I don’t drink” will work quite effectively. We responses to such pressure lines. What have evaluated a wide range of possible they need most are simple but effective There may be times when your son or responses and students clearly prefer “one liners” that will diffuse the pressure daughter may be put in situations where simple, straightforward “outs” to the without making a big scene or issue he or she is pressured by one or more pressure situation. Encourage the student about it. It is difficult for parents to provide peers to perform behaviors she would to think about such “one liners” beforehand such responses to the student because rather not engage in. For example, he to be prepared if he or she finds himself or parents usually are not aware of the or she may be pressured by someone to herself in an uncomfortable situation. current language that students use with have a drink when your son or daughter one another. It is probably more useful doesn’t want to. Students need to for parents to tell their students that they develop skills to resist such pressure will probably be exposed to pressures to and affirm their own values, beliefs, and drink and for the student to try to think of attitudes. short yet effective responses to pressure attempts. Often such simple phrases as A Parent Handbook for Talking with College Students About Alcohol 9

12 Talking About Alcohol Alcohol is the most misused drug in our society, although most people do not even consider alcohol to be a drug. It takes only a We are not single episode of intoxication to experience life-changing consequences, like rape, accidents, arrests, etc. so naïve that we think that parents talking with their sons and daughters about alcohol use will put an end to alcohol consumption in college students. However, you should do everything in your power to minimize odds of them being at risk. PARENTAL RELUCTANCE TO TALK WITH STUDENT ABOUT DRINKING FACT MYTH Over 90% of students try alcohol outside the home before My son or daughter is not interested in drinking. graduating from high school. Although most students do learn about alcohol in their classes My son or daughter has learned about the negative effects on health, we have found that many important issues never got of alcohol in school. covered. Unfortunately, the reality is that many students at this point in their At this point my son or daughter should know better. lives are still uninformed about how powerful a drug alcohol can be. The results of the American College Health Survey revealed that My son or daughter won’t listen at this point. parents were the number one source that students turned to for important information. you need to make clear your Finally, Third, students drink for a variety of IN YOUR TALKS THERE willingness to help your son or daughter reasons. If you address this directly, then ARE SEVERAL TOPICS find constructive alternatives to drinking. he or she will be better able to think THAT YOU SHOULD through the choices she/he makes when BE SURE TO ADDRESS confronted with “positive” motivations. First, you should talk about how drinking you need to discuss reasons Fourth, affects the body. Students need to know NOT for drinking and the many negative how drinking on a given occasion will consequences that can result from affect them. drinking. you should make clear your Second, own position concerning your student’s drinking, exactly what is okay and what is not. A Parent Handbook for Talking with College Students About Alcohol 10

13 How Alcohol Works in the Body Alcohol is a drug that is absorbed into In the media it is suggested that most What is common to all individuals and all the bloodstream from the stomach and individuals can have one drink per hour situations is that alcohol depresses the the small intestine. It is broken down by and maintain sobriety. Unfortunately, brain and slows down major functions the liver and then eliminated from the this is a dangerous rule. For individuals such as breathing, heart rate, and thinking. body. There are limits to how fast the weighing over 200 pounds this might This is one reason why alcohol is so liver can break down alcohol and be true, but for most females and males, dangerous. If an individual drinks too Until this process cannot be sped up. even ½ drink per hour could lead to much alcohol, his or her breathing or the liver has had time to break down all intoxication and the bad things that go heart rate can reach dangerously low of the alcohol, the alcohol continues to along with it (unsafe/coercive sexual levels or even stop. circulate in the bloodstream, affecting all experiences; fights; accidents). of the body’s organs, including the brain. As alcohol reaches the brain, a person Nothing can speed this up. Not exercise, begins to feel drunk. The exact nature of drinking coffee, etc. Nothing. this feeling can vary considerably from individual to individual and even within the same individual from situation to situation. Physical and Psychological Effects People are notoriously bad at speaking. This is what is known commonly Alcohol is measured in terms of blood estimating how drunk they are. In as a “black-out”. The person is awake, alcohol content. In popular press, you cases where they are very drunk, it is but the brain is focusing on other more may see reference to terms such as BAC indeed obvious. But more often than not, important tasks such as breathing and or BAL. A BAC of 0.1 percent means people get to the point where they are keeping the heart and blood going. that 1/1000 of the fluid in the blood is impaired but do not realize it. Study after alcohol. This may seem very small, but it know how drinks DO NOT Most students study has demonstrated that people are does not take much to achieve this level. influence the blood alcohol level. In fact, extremely poor at guessing how sober For example, a 150-pound female who they have many misconceptions about they are. consumes 5 drinks in 2 hours will have a how drinking affects BAC. Students BAC near 0.1. A 115-pound female who tend to think that the impact on BAC of consumes 4 drinks in 2 hours will have additional drinks is smaller after more At a BAC of 0.1, most a BAC near 0.1. drinks have been consumed. This is wrong. students will be very drunk. Their Each additional drink adds the same thinking, vision, hearing, reaction amount of alcohol to the blood whether or time, movement and judgments of not that drink is the first or fifth drink. speed and distance will be seriously It is likely that the brain will impaired. not form new memories even though the person is completely conscious and A Parent Handbook for Talking with College Students About Alcohol 11

14 Many accidental deaths occur from mixing alcohol with other drugs. Even drugs that you can buy without a prescription, such as aspirin or cold remedies, can change the way alcohol acts on the body. (beer, wine, liquor) ALCOHOL EFFECTS: MIXED WITH: Antibotics Extreme drowsiness, decreases effectiveness Extreme drowsiness, causes temporary depression Antihistamines Stomach and intestinal bleeding Aspirin Dangerously lowered blood pressure High Blood Pressure Medicines Extreme slowing of brain activities, breathing slowed down or stopped Narcotics Non-Narcotic Pain Killers Stomach and intestinal irritation or bleeding Extreme slowing of brain activities, breathing slowed down or stopped, heart Sedatives & Tranquilizers slowed or stopped Fresh air will help you become sober HERE ARE BELIEFS THAT Some parents allow their sons or MANY STUDENTS HOLD daughters to drink a controlled amount A quick walk will help you WHICH ARE NOT TRUE: on certain occasions, such as holidays become sober and family functions. Still other parents Black coffee will help you believe it is all right for students to drink Going from dark lighting to bright lighting become sober small amounts of alcohol, as long as he will help you become sober or she does so in a responsible fashion. Exercise will help you become sober Your own orientation as a parent is Drinking milk before drinking However, a matter of your own values. will allow you to drink as Eating food will help you if you are going to permit your son or much as you want become sober daughter to drink alcohol in certain Putting a penny in your mouth Taking a cold shower will help you contexts, then you must be clear about will lower your BAC become sober exactly what these contexts are and what constitutes responsible behavior. Studies consistently show that when parents permit their sons or daughters to These myths are important to dispel because students may decide to drink they tend to drink more often drive drunk after engaging in such activities, thinking that the activity and heavier outside the home. has “sobered them up.” In fact, the activity only creates a temporary illusion of sobering up and in some instances increases drunkenness. A Parent Handbook for Talking with College Students About Alcohol 12

15 Reasons Why Students Drink It is important for parents to recognize that there will be “positive” reasons (at least from the student’s perspective) for why they choose to drink. If parents only choose to focus discussions on the negative aspects of drinking, ignoring the positive aspects, they run the risk of losing credibility in their son’s or daughter’s eyes. Also, you need to help your son or daughter put these “positive” motivations in perspective so that they do not start to drink because of them. Here are some of the major ones that research has shown impact drinking behavior. MAKES IT EASIER TO EXPRESS Second, perpetrators of sexual assault use ADDS TO A CELEBRATION FEELINGS/LESS INHIBITED alcohol to render their victims incapacitated Some students believe that drinking is one Another reason students give for drinking and unable to fight back. Alcohol might way to celebrate a special occasion. For is that they believe that alcohol helps prevent them from being able to recognize example, a friend may suggest to your son make it easier to express feelings or talk red flag behavior in perpetrators. Finally, or daughter that they have a few beers with people to whom they are attracted. there is considerable scientific evidence to after finishing an important assignment. It Parents need to be sensitive to how difficult indicate that students are much more likely is important that you talk with your son it is for students to communicate in a to engage in unprotected intercourse if they or daughter about alternative ways of new environment where they are unlikely have been drinking, thereby increasing the celebrating such as: (1) suggesting that to know anybody. Parents should point chances of an unintended pregnancy or a your son or daughter go shopping for out that while often releasing inhibitions, sexually transmitted disease, such as AIDS. something special (e.g., clothes, music, alcohol actually could cloud judgments, sporting goods); (2) suggesting an outing, LOWERS STRESS making students think that they are such as dinner, that would include a few Another reason students give for drinking is communicating better when, in fact, they special friends; and/or (3) offering to that alcohol helps reduce worries. Parents are not. Often times alcohol interferes with have friends over for a small dinner party should talk with their sons or daughters to communication about what is okay and (without alcohol). Encourage your student to find out about what worries them and help what is not. We know that sexual assault tell you about significant things that happen the student directly confront these worries is almost never a miscommunication but a in his or her life and then try to help him or in a realistic fashion. Parents can also point deliberate choice on the perpetrator’s part. her celebrate positively. out the need to confront problems directly rather than avoid them and note that the MAKES YOU FEEL SEXIER, problem does not go away because you ENHANCES SEXUALITY drink (and, in fact, it may become worse). Some students believe that drinking alcohol adds to sexual experiences, but it is important to warn your son or daughter about the dangers in mixing alcohol and sex. First, because alcohol impairs judgment, students may do things that they may regret later on, such as have sex with someone that, if sober, they would choose not to, or going further sexually than they are interested. A Parent Handbook for Talking with College Students About Alcohol 13

16 HELPS MOOD PEER PRESSURE Many students believe that alcohol will Another important reason why students HERE ARE help them get in a better mood. They drink is the influence of friends. Your son should know that it is normal to feel or daughter may feel pressured to drink. SOME SUGGESTIONS sad and stressed at times. They should This pressure can be direct, as in the form 1. Try to meet three also find alternate ways to regulate their of someone handing him a beer at a party, new people. mood without alcohol or other drugs or it can be indirect, such as when he or (e.g., caffeine). Exercise is always a good she wants to be part of a group and that Try to find individuals who 2. alternative to help improve one’s mood. It group experiments with alcohol. Parents share common interests other is also important to explain to your son or CANNOT choose their student’s friends for than drinking. daughter that the “high” from alcohol is them. However, parents can help their son accompanied by extreme lows as well. or daughter understand the dynamics of Try to think about topics for 3. peer pressure and stress the importance conversation before going to SOMETHING TO DO of being his or her own person. Finally, the party to keep the focus of Some students get bored and turn to parents and students can talk about the conversation away from alcohol as a means of getting excitement situations that could come up, such as a drinking or not drinking. out of their lives. To confront this, you can friend introducing alcohol at a party, so that offer alternatives that your son or daughter Never drink from a glass that 4. students can anticipate how to react. can pursue. Some examples include getting has been out of your sight. involved in sports, hobbies, music, dance, FITTING IN Unfortunately there are some games, reading, and school clubs. Students Often the highlight of the day after drinking predators who use drugs to could also become involved in volunteer are the post-party war stories about who facilitate committing sexual activities that are associated with causes drank the most shots, who blacked-out, assault. they really care about, such as protecting and who had the worst hangover. Although the environment or promoting literacy. This some students view these outcomes as is a good way to meet others with similar badges of honor, our findings suggest that interests and also to feel good about hangovers, black-outs, and heavy drinking themselves. Many students go to parties or are associated with accidents, unsafe have parties as a means of entertainment. sex, arrests, missed work, failed courses, Drinking frequently occurs in such settings and general victimization. It is important and it is important that you provide to understand that the data shows that suggestions on how students can enjoy perpetrators of sexual assault target people themselves without alcohol. who are incapacitated by alcohol. . A Parent Handbook for Talking with College Students About Alcohol 14

17 Why Students Do Not Drink Many students choose not to drink and the reasons they cite for not doing so can form the cornerstone of your conversations about the disadvantages of drinking. Before discussing these, we must interject a word of caution. If you try strong scare tactics with students by inducing a great deal of fear about negative consequences, then your efforts might actually backfire. Research has shown that when faced with highly fear arousing information, some people will often “turn off” to it and not pay as much attention to it. This is because such information and thoughts are anxiety provoking and people are motivated to avoid anxiety. Why think about something when it is unpleasant to do so? In addition, strong scare tactics will often result in a loss of credibility. If you paint a picture based solely on the dire consequences of drinking and a student fails to see such consequences materialize when he, she, or a friend drinks, then the student will infer that you were wrong or you were exaggerating the consequences. Discuss the negative consequences in a matter of fact, honest, and straightforward fashion. DRINKING MAKES DRINKING IS ILLEGAL YOU SICK OR PASS OUT Students generally know that drinking alcohol under the age of 21 is illegal. However, the Alcohol is an irritant to the lining of the general perception is that they will not get caught by the authorities and suffer any legal digestive system. If too much is consumed, consequences. The fact is there is some truth to this perception. If, as a parent, you try to an individual will vomit and the effects on convey to your student the idea that there is a high probability of being caught when in fact the system can be felt for days (frequently there is not, then you will probably lose credibility. Instead of taking such a position, we have referred to as a “hangover”). Nobody at found it useful simply to remind students about the many ways that they may get caught. a party or a social function likes being Drinking at parties often leads to public disturbances and complaints to police, who will around someone who is sick. This is arrest all at the scene who are intoxicated. complicated by the fact that the sickness one experiences often happens suddenly What happens if authorities catch a student? This varies from community to community and and with little warning. judge to judge. However, there generally will be substantial costs in legal fees. There will be family embarrassment, since many such arrests are routinely reported in newspapers (not as headlines, of course, but in smaller sections labeled “Police Reports”). The student will also probably experience embarrassment, as he or she is publicly associated through the newspapers with getting caught for alcohol consumption. Prosecution in court may require the parent to take time off from work, thus costing the family money. Our experience has shown that students rarely have thought about even half of the above consequences and that making them more aware of the implications of an arrest may have deterrent value. A Parent Handbook for Talking with College Students About Alcohol 15

18 DRINKING CAN LEAD EXAMPLES OF SIGNS THAT MAY BE INDICATIONS TO PREMATURE DEATH OF A DRINKING PROBLEM INCLUDE: Excessive alcohol consumption can have serious negative physical effects. Among Using Alcohol To Help Solve Needing A Drink Have Fun other things, it causes damage to the liver, kidneys, brain, and cardiovascular Problems Forgetting What Happened system, which are all long term in nature. Sneaking Drinks While Drinking There are however, countless instances of students that have had fatal accidents Finding Reasons to Drinking To Feel Better or unsafe sex and contracted a sexually Continue Drinking About Oneself transmitted disease following a single night of heavy drinking. Unfortunately, it Having Difficulty Stopping Bragging About Tolerance is also not uncommon for individuals who vomit from heavy drinking to choke to Ability To Socialize Drinking Fast or death. Only When Drinking “Guzzling” Drinks DRINKING MIGHT LEAD TO BEING AN ALCOHOLIC Drinking In The Morning Most students have negative images of alcoholics and most do not want to become alcoholics. Most students are Some individuals pass through stages from social drinking to problem drinking to also convinced that they can control their alcoholism. For others, the addiction may occur after only a few drinks. Some students drinking and will not become alcoholics. are genetically disposed towards alcoholism and can become problem drinkers Experts distinguish between three types relatively easily. Many students cannot articulate the differences between a social and of drinkers: social drinkers, problem problem drinker. drinkers, and alcoholics: A Parent Handbook for Talking with College Students About Alcohol 16

19 Binge Drinking: Drinking to Get Drunk Binge drinking refers to individuals who set out to get drunk on a given occasion by drinking five or more drinks in the course of a short period of time (e.g., over the course of two hours). Binge drinking is quite common in both high schools and colleges. Almost 30% of high school students have engaged in binging. Many colleges report rates as high as 60%. There are times when individuals will plan to binge drink (e.g., Let’s go out and get hammered!). However, there are numerous occasions where individuals will only plan on having a drink or two, but get carried away by drinking games, parties that get out of hand or someone buys a round of drinks, etc. Binge drinking has serious risks. Consider these quotes from a sample of college students: “A girl I know got so drunk that a friend “I went to a fraternity party off campus. and I had to carry her for several blocks, I had at least 12 shots of liquor and trying to keep her from burning us with two mixed drinks. That night, I went a cigarette. Since then, she has gotten home with this guy I did not know and as drunk every weekend.” had sex with him. The guy and his roommates carried me home. I went to “In a crowded party, I accidently nudged the hospital for alcohol poisoning and someone. I apologized but the guy hit rape. I blacked out. I never pressed me anyway, making my mouth bleed.” charges because he used the condom in my wallet.” “I was having a great night. I drank at least 15 beers. Then I blacked out. This is not unusual for me. Another time, I became violent, smashed bottles and got in tons of trouble.” These accounts sound shocking, but chances are they have happened to your son or daughter or someone he or she knows. These experiences alone should convince you of the potential risks of binge drinking. Binge drinkers are more likely to have been insulted by others, been in a serious argument or quarrel, been pushed, hit or assaulted, had one’s property damaged, put themselves in situations where they are more susceptible to sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV, been injured or had life threatening experiences, driven while intoxicated or rode in a car with an intoxicated driver. We also know that perpetrators target individuals that are incapacitated by alcohol. No one deserves to be sexually assaulted no matter how much they drink. A Parent Handbook for Talking with College Students About Alcohol 17

20 You need to emphasize to your son or daughter how powerful a drug alcohol can be and how quickly binge drinking can lead to dangerous results. By discussing the reasons why students drink, why students choose not to drink, and the basis of good relationships, and by providing your son or daughter with skills on how to resist pressures from others, you will be helping your student develop the foundations that are necessary to reduce the probability of binge drinking. Binge drinkers tend to associate with Binge drinkers tend to disagree with many RESEARCH SUGGESTS THAT others who tend to binge drink (e.g., of the reasons why some students do not INDIVIDUALS TEND TO BINGE DRINK Everyone at my age is doing it, My friends drink indicated earlier (e.g., drinking makes FOR MANY REASONS. SOME OF THESE will think I am strange if I do not drink, It you sick). INCLUDE: can’t be that bad if everyone is doing it). Binge drinkers tend to believe that there Binge drinkers tend to have generally is nothing else to do, but go get drunk on positive expectations about the types of weekends and associate with others who activities where binge drinking is more hold the same belief. likely to take place (e.g., bars, fraternity/ sorority parties). Some of the more commonly held beliefs include: I will be able to meet new people, I might meet potential sexual partners, and I will get to hang out with my friends. Binge drinkers tend to agree with many of the reasons why students drink indicated earlier (e.g., drinking adds to a celebration, improves mood). A Parent Handbook for Talking with College Students About Alcohol 18

21 Did You Drink When You Were a Student? It is highly likely that in the course of your discussions with your son or daughter, you will be asked if you ever drank as a student. The fact is that most parents did drink in their youth, which creates a dilemma. If you answer no, then you are not being honest with your son or daughter. If you answer yes, then you are being hypocritical. At the same time you are telling your son or daughter not to drink, you admit that you did. You are, in an indirect way saying it is permissible to drink because you did it. And if you drank as a student, how can you turn around and punish your son or daughter for drinking? How should you answer questions about your own drinking as a student? While this strategy may work for some We believe that honesty is important and families, it may prove to be ineffective for that you should not lie to your student. others. An alternative approach is to admit Ultimately, this can undermine effective use, but to state in unambiguous terms communication. Some parents establish a that it was a mistake. Use your experiences “ground rule” at the start of their discussion: as an opportunity to discuss some of the They will talk about anything but will not negative things that happened. Relate how answer questions about their own use of drinking led to an embarrassing moment or drugs or alcohol as a student. The parent an unpleasant consequence for the parent, tells the student that this rule does not making salient the fact that drinking has mean that the parent drank alcohol as a negative consequences that the parent teenager nor does it mean that the parent has personally experienced. Stress that did not. Rather, the parent’s behavior just because the parent behaved foolishly as a student is not relevant to a careful and was lucky enough to escape serious consideration of the issues surrounding consequences does not mean that the the student’s current use of alcohol. This same fortune will befall the student. strategy works well in some families but not others. Unfortunately, there is no good scientific data about how best to handle this issue Students may be convinced that their and psychologists are divided on what parents are hiding something and resent they recommend. You should use your the fact that the parent won’t talk about own judgment about what you think will it. How can the parent expect the student work best given your own past and your to talk about his or her behavior when the knowledge of your son or daughter. parent refuses to talk about the parent’s behavior as a student? A Parent Handbook for Talking with College Students About Alcohol 19

22 RIDING WITH A DRUNK DRIVER WARNING SIGNS OF A POTENTIAL PROBLEM Even if your student never drinks, she/he may be faced with a situation where a decision must be made whether or not to ride with someone who has been drinking. This is just as Most parents underestimate the dangerous as driving drunk. As a rule your son or daughter should not get into a car with drinking activity of their sons someone who has been drinking and should be knowledgeable about effective alternatives or daughters. If you think your (e.g., calling a taxi, asking someone else for a ride home). You should develop an explicit son or daughter might have a agreement with your son or daughter that he or she never rides home with someone who drinking problem, here are some has been drinking. Again, it is almost impossible to judge how drunk or sober someone is suggestions for ways in which you once the person has been drinking, so it is best not to ride with someone regardless of the can help: number of drinks that person has had or how sober the person seems to be. The student • Do not turn your back should be aware that the techniques for “sobering up” (e.g., drinking coffee) do not work on the problem. (see our earlier discussion) and that they should not rely on these to make a friend a “safe and sober” driver. Make sure your son or daughter always has enough money for a taxi ride when discussing • Be calm or for public transportation. Encourage them to ride with other non-drinking friends or call the problem. home. Let your son or daughter know • PREVENTING A FRIEND FROM DRINKING AND DRIVING that you are concerned and are willing to help. Your son or daughter may also be faced with a situation where his or her best friend has been drinking and intends to drive. In these cases, your son or daughter should try to stop • Do not make excuses or cover his or her friend from driving. Many students are reluctant to do so because they feel that up for your son or daughter. it might prove to be embarrassing or that an argument might ensue, or even a physical confrontation. Our research suggests that less resistance will result if: • Do not take over your student’s but provide him responsibilities Students do not try to take their friends’ keys away • or her with the means to take responsibility for himself or herself. • Students try to arrange for a friend to drive with your son or • Do not argue • Students arrange for their friend to stay over daughter if he or she is drunk. • Students try to reason with their friend stay • If your child stays out late, awake for them when possible, ALCOHOL AND SEXUAL ASSAULT to show you care and are interested in what they are doing. Talking to you child about alcohol use is also a good time to have a conversation about sexual assault. Over half of all college sexual assaults involve alcohol and alcohol is the number one drug used to facilitate sexual assault. Perpetrators use alcohol as a weapon to incapacitate potential victims and intentionally target people who have been using alcohol. We often teach our children to avoid strangers in alleys, however 85% of all assaults are committed by someone the victim knows. Talk to your kids about consent. Make sure to emphasize that consent must be asked for and received before sexual activity occurs and consent is not valid if someone is intoxicated or incapacitated by alcohol. A Parent Handbook for Talking with College Students About Alcohol 20

23 For More Information If you would like more information about alcohol and drug use in young adults, you BUCKNELL UNIVERSTIY RESOURCES can contact the following Dean of Students bucknell.edu/StudentAffairs organizations for many useful Bucknell Student Health materials: bucknell.edu/StudentHealth Counseling & Student Development Center bucknell.edu/Counseling National Institute on Public Safety Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism bucknell.edu/PublicSafety www.niaaa.nih.gov Parents Fund & Family Programs bucknell.edu/Parents NIAAA College Drinking Dining Services Changing the Culture bucknell.edu/DiningServices www.collegedrinkingprevention.gov Campus Activities & Programs bucknell.edu/CAP National Council on Alcoholism Recreational Services–Wellness Services and Drug Dependence bucknell.edu/RecreationServices www.ncadd.org/index.php Alcoholics Anonymous www.alcoholics-anonymous.org Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration www.samhsa.gov A Parent Handbook for Talking with College Students About Alcohol 21

24 Notes ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ A Parent Handbook for Talking with College Students About Alcohol 22

25 Notes ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ A Parent Handbook for Talking with College Students About Alcohol 23

26 brought to you by: © 2010 CO Productions Ltd. All rights reserved. Note: No part of this text can be used or reproduced without written permission from the author. 6/2017

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