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Parents: Understand your child’s drinking risks in college

It is nearly the end of the school year, and you may be feeling relieved that your child has almost completed his or her first year in college, as well as proud. You remember what it was like when you were in college, and you know that things have not changed very much. You understand that alcohol is a big part of life for college students in Maryland and elsewhere.

It may come as no surprise that the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has cited alcohol abuse as one of the most prevalent hazards confronting college students. Nearly two out of three students enrolled in universities reportedly participate in binge-drinking activities while at school. Every year, approximately 1,825 students die in accidents pertaining to alcohol, particularly drunk driving crashes. A DUI charge is not the only alcohol-related penalty your child could face for drinking in school, however. Other consequences may include the following:

  • Charges for assault or property damage
  • Underage drinking charges
  • Suspension from athletics or academic activities, or expulsion from school
  • Difficulty completing education or finding a job with a criminal record

Many people consider parties, football games, bar crawls and other activities to be a normal part of the college experience. While there is nothing wrong with your child having fun with friends, it can be easy for him or her to be pressured to drink more than usual, or to gradually become dependent on alcohol. You might help your child avoid these problems by setting boundaries and expectations and talking to your child often. It might help to watch for red flags like falling grades or changes in behavior, such as seeming depressed or avoiding your calls and text messages.

Even the best students sometimes make mistakes. If your child is facing charges, you have the right to seek legal counsel.

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