How to Talk to Your Kids About College Binge Drinking

With the fall semester set to begin soon, many parents are getting ready to send their college-aged children off to school. Whether this year will be your son’s first semester in college, or if he is returning for his sophomore, junior or senior year, there is no time like the present to start a conversation about the dangers of binge drinking on campus.

Your son has probably already faced pressure to drink, whether from his peer group at a party or indirectly through images he’s seen his friends share on social media. The stereotype of college students overindulging in alcohol is all too commonly depicted in pop culture, as well. Indeed, if you fail to address this topic with him, your college-aged son may enter school with the expectation that binge drinking will be part of the culture. That’s why it’s essential for you to be proactive about bringing up this topic.

College Binge Drinking Affects the Brain

Neuroscientists have discovered that people’s brains continue to develop until their mid-20s. Without fully mature brains, teens lack many essential decision-making skills and may make poor choices, due to underdeveloped impulse control. Therefore, it may be harder for your son to say no in an environment where their peers are engaging in binge drinking and other risky behavior.

Because of how alcohol use affects brain chemistry, students who drink are also exposing themselves to more dangers such as blackouts. These occur when a person who drinks too much and too quickly has gaps in their memory where they cannot recall what they did, where they went or who they spent time with. In one study of nearly 800 college students, some of the young adults who reported experiencing an alcohol-induced blackout in the two weeks before the survey discovered they had done dangerous things during that period, including driving under the influence, having unprotected sex or vandalizing property.

Far-Reaching Consequences

The ramifications of college binge drinking are far more grievous than many families realize. To drive home the dangers of binge drinking, consider the following statistics from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

  • 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including vehicle crashes
    696,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 experience assault from another student who has been drinking
  • 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 report experiencing alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape

What Parents Can Do to Deter Binge Drinking

Students are often more vulnerable to experience pressure to binge drink in the first weeks of a new school year, when there are many parties, sports events and invitations to rush fraternities. Especially if your son is away at a college in another city or state, regularly checking in and being a positive influence in the earliest phases of the new school year can serve as a significant deterrent to underage and binge drinking.

Starting the conversation about college binge drinking can be challenging when young people are more concerned about fitting in, making friends and having a good time than they are about behaving responsibly. That’s why your son needs to hear about these risks directly from you.

Helping Young Men Realize Their Full Potential

If your college-aged son has developed an alcohol use disorder, reach out to our team at Spearhead Lodge. At our unique extended-care facility, we offer gender-specific treatment that provides young men with valuable life skills, sobriety tools and evidence-based recovery. Contact us anytime, 24 hours a day and seven days a week.