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My Child Started Drinking a Lot in College: Should I Be Worried?

My Child Started Drinking a Lot in College: Should I Be Worried?

It’s no secret that the college culture of today includes alcohol. While many parents of college students consider binge drinking and drug use a top concern, others view it as part of a “normal” college experience. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), “The consequences of excessive drinking by college students are more significant, more destructive, and more costly than many parents realize.” Regardless of a parent’s opinion about alcohol use in college, the consequences of excessive drinking should be discussed.

Signs Your College Student is Excessively Drinking in College

According to the most recent drug and alcohol survey conducted by the Core Institute, 82% of respondents saw drinking as “central” to the social life of male college students, while 73.1% of respondents saw it as central to the social life of female students.

Alcohol and substance use disorders often take hold in the late teens and early 20s, so it’s important for parents to be observant and keep the lines of communication open while your student is away at college.

Signs your son or daughter may be drinking in college include:

  • Physical Changes
    Breath or skin that smells of alcohol or a decrease in hygiene habits may be indicative of an alcohol use disorder. Over time, or in severe cases, your son or daughter may also exhibit weight loss or gain, dry skin, or broken capillaries on the face.
  • Mood Swings
    Routine drinking depresses the brain’s serotonin production, which is responsible for mood regulation. If your formerly even-keeled child suddenly becomes short-tempered or you notice outbursts of sadness, rage or anxiety, alcohol could be a root cause.
  • Decreased Academic Performance
    According to The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASAColumbia), 28% of all college dropouts can be traced back to an alcohol-related cause and, startlingly, 40% of college academic issues stem from alcohol misuse. Skipping classes, missing tests, or being placed on academic probation are potential indicators of a drinking problem.
  • Lethargy
    College can be exhausting, but if your student is tired all the time or sleeping a lot during the day, study-related all-nighters may not be the cause. Young adults who drink in college often party at night and play catch-up on sleep during the day when they should be attending classes or engaging in healthy socialization.

Collegiate Recovery that Gives Your Child a Life of Purpose

At age 18 or older, though your child may legally be an adult, you still have significant influence over your child’s choices. It is important to maintain an open line of communication so you can detect and address behavior patterns that seem out of character. As a family, you can determine the next steps if your child is exhibiting signs of an alcohol use disorder.

Drinking in college does not have to derail your son or daughter’s academic pursuits or professional future. At Life of Purpose, the first on-campus substance use treatment center, we offer primary and intensive outpatient treatment for young adults struggling with a drug or alcohol use disorder. During treatment, your child can continue education, form strong sober relationships, adopt techniques for managing drinking triggers, and enjoy experiential therapies that strengthen their recovery. Get help for your college student today: call 1.888.PURPOSE.

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