Did you know?

For many of us our college years were some of the best times of our lives and we want our children to have the same experience.  Back in the “good old days.”   Times have changed and so has our knowledge about the effects of drinking and the drug scene.  The college culture encompasses pressure to binge drink, have sex with “friends with benefits” and/or hook-ups and abuse prescription drugs. 
 Did you know?

  • That 22.9% of college students meet the criteria for alcohol, drug abuse or dependence vs. 8.5% of the general population.
  • .Marijuana is 14 times stronger than in the 70’s and 80’s and is frequently laced with other drugs even heroin to give it a little kick.
  •  Since 1993 the daily use of marijuana has increased 110%
  • Since 1993 the use of tranquilizers has increased 450% and the use of opioids (narcotic pain pills) has increased 343%
  •  In 2001 over 97,000 students were victims of alcohol related sexual assaults or rape
  • Medically, alcohol can damage every organ in the body, particularly the brain.
  • The younger a person begins to drink alcohol the greater the chance that they will become addicted. “The fact remains that early use is a strong indicator of problems ahead, among them, substance abuse and addiction.”
  •  The only substantial change that happens when a child turns 18 is that parents no longer have automatic access to their child’s records. Whether it is academic, medical, or legal records, a parent cannot see them without a child’s written permission. Your 18 year old doesn’t magically begin to make adult decisions. 
  •  The legal drinking age is twenty-one.

 “The consequence from the use, abuse and misuse of these drugs is poor academic performance, depression, anxiety, suicide, medial problems, risky sex, property damages, vandalism and fights.” If you haven’t viewed the CASA slideshow please do so before your child leaves for college- see college facts page.
 There is a difference between being homesick and being depressed.  Sadly, many mood, anxiety and personality disorders begin in early adulthood when children are leave home and are beginning to live an independent life.  If your child begins to sleep more than usual, seems disinterested in school- they may have the beginning signs of depression. If you are noticing other major changes in your child’s personality, habits, goals...This website describes symptoms, causes, risk factors and medical advice: Mayo Clinic.   Further, the mental disorder preceded the addictive order in almost 84% of those having mental health problems and substance use problems, developing most frequently during adolescence (Belenko & Dembo, 2003)  This website give statistical information based on studies 
SAMHAs - Co-Occuring Mental Problems and Substance Use   
Depression and Initiation of Alcohol and other Drug Use  
What is Depression? 
NIDA: Comorbidity- Addition and other Mental Illnesses
(Have your child review some of these links so they can be aware of some of these symptoms to help a roommate and/or friend.) You may want to recommend that they see the school counselor or a psychologist.  Either should be able to determine if it is depression and if some coping skills can be used to help improve the situation. Be aware that typically a psychiatrist will administer medication and only monitor the effectiveness of the medicine. A psychologist but will counsel a client to improve coping skills or recognize potential triggers for more intense episodes.
I would also like to mention that I had two friends’ children (freshman at college) go to their school clinic for health reasons. Both were prescribed Vicodin -the number one prescription drug prescribed by doctors and the number one nationally abused drug- one for strep throat and the other for a virus!  Warn your child to be diligent about checking medications before taking them.  Also remember mixing alcohol and drugs (whether legal prescribed or not) can be deadly.
Since the 1990’s date rape drugs have been a growing problem. Instead of warning your student not to accept an open drink from anyone and never drink from a cup/bottle that they sat down, you should tell them to put a lid on their drink and use a straw.  One friend had someone slip GHB over her shoulder while she was looking the other way. She ended up in the emergency room with no recollection of what happened earlier in the evening.  Another friend’s son was given this drug while at a bar one evening. No one is safe. A single capful of GHB can have powerful effects. For more info: NIDA: Rohypnol  The Real Drug Deal GHB
 A major encouraging change on college campuses over the past several years has been the increase in study sessions, tutoring, and other study aides that assist students in not only passing classes but achieving good grades.  Gone is the philosophy of “weeding out.”  If your child has been accepted to a college you should expect them to make mostly A’s and B’s; colleges expect it or they wouldn’t have admitted them!  If your child isn’t making acceptable grades you may want to question them about their free time.  Are they partying too much? Are they playing too many video games? Are they socializing too much? Are they missing classes?  Suggest they put study time into their schedules and get the FREE help offered at most colleges. Ensure that they aren’t making poor choices in their personal life. This may impact not just their success in college but their health and success throughout their lives. 
 Most colleges have more clubs and activities than in previous years. Getting involved in clubs, intramurals or other campus activities helps a student meet other people with similar interests as well as helps them to feel a part of their college community.
College is about becoming independent and getting an education not about getting an addiction.  Please continue to guide and help your child make good choices.  Colleges aren’t solely responsible for your child’s successful transition into adulthood. The reality is: college campus life in the 21st century is very different than it was twenty or thirty years ago. Working together- school, parent and child- your child’s college years will be successful both academically and personally and be a memorable and rewarding experience.