Alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among the under 21 crowd in the country. In fact, our teens and young adults compose about 11% of the alcohol consuming population in the U.S. And, when we send our kids away to college, what happens? Even after all the lectures and our constant watch over them during the high school years, many partake in college life by drinking with their peers. Studies from federal health official show that an astronomical 80% of college students drink alcohol. There are a host of problems with this, one of which is that even though 18 year olds are legally considered adults, the brain doesn’t fully develop until the mid-20’s. So, the part of the brain that tells us to stop our risky behavior as adults is not fully functioning and many end up doing dangerous things.
You might ask, “Why do kids drink underage, even the straight A student types?” When interviewed many say it helps them to fit in, break the ice, makes things more fun and breaks down sexual barriers. While all of this might make them feel like it’s the only option for a good time, the tragedy is that according to NCADD, approximately 600,000 college students are hurt while under the influence and 700,000 are assaulted by someone who is under the influence each year. Even worse, more than 1,800 die from drunk driving or alcohol related injuries.
The most recent studies and research continue to confirm that early use of alcohol can have serious long-term effects on decision-making skills and lead to alcoholism. Unfortunately, many parents and caregivers haven’t gotten this message and I recently heard of a local party in which the parents let the kids drink beer as long as they “handed over the keys”. While this might help keep drunk drivers off the roads, it doesn’t help the kid who is at risk for becoming an alcoholic. The take home message is that it’s extremely important that parents set the tone at home by not condoning alcohol use, from early on.
College campuses across the country are doing their best to reign in the “Animal House” behavior. Here’s a list from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education of the top colleges with the most alcohol-related disciplinary action in 2012:
1. West Virginia University
2. New York University
3. Ohio State University
4. University of Wisconsin – Madison
7. Michigan State University
8. Michigan State University Law School
9. University of Colorado, Boulder
10. Colorado State University
11. University of Vermont
12. James Madison University
13. Illinois State University
14. University of Alabama
15. Fairfield University
16. Syracuse University
17. Coastal Carolina University
18. University of Oregon
19. University of Michigan Ann Arbor
20. Boston College
Although the 2014-2015 school year is still fresh, you may have a student that has already received a liquor violation on campus. Sometimes called a MIP, Minor-In-Possession or MIC, Minor In Consumption. It might be that they were totally sober but caught up in a group party that served alcohol to minors, or actually caught holding a red cup. Either way, the school will take action and your child will most likely go in front of a disciplinary board. If the police are involved, there will be a court date to go in front of a judge. It’s always a good idea to come armed to these meetings with proof of completion of an alcohol and drug awareness program or MIP Class to show good faith. This shows that the student understands what he or she did wrong and has taken steps to learn from the mistake. The final consequences will be up to the University or the law, but taking a class ahead of time can only booster your case.