Parent Guide. Copyright 2010 Inflexxion, Inc. All Rights Reserved. A N I N F L E X X I O N S O L U T I O N

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1 Parent Guide TM College is an exciting milestone for parents and children. It is a time of new experiences, a time of transition, and a time to stay connected. Helping teenagers prepare for and adjust to the opportunities and stresses they will face at college is important. A smooth transition can make a big difference. As a parent, you can support a healthy transition by talking to your child about alcohol and other drugs. MyStudentBody Parent website is full of useful information to help you stay connected to your child and make sure the transition to college is successful. There are seven main topic areas: College Trends Share the Facts with Your Child Communicating About the Transition Prevention Strategies Warning Signs Support for Students Rules and Regulations Each topic area includes: Four brief articles with useful information and strategies Essential conversations to have with your child An informative and interactive tool In addition to the topics, you can also find out about the policies, resources, recommendations, and upcoming events on your child s campus. You can listen to the personal perspectives of college staff, students, and parents; read college news stories; and take a poll. This is all available for you at MyStudentBody Parent. Copyright 2010 Inflexxion, Inc. All Rights Reserved. A N I N F L E X X I O N S O L U T I O N

2 College Trends Not every college student chooses to use alcohol or other drugs. In fact, most students make healthy choices. Approximately 67% of college freshmen do not drink heavily, and some don t drink at all. Heavy or Binge Drinking A minority of students drink heavily. Binge drinking, as it is commonly called, means consuming 5 or more drinks for males, or 4 or more drinks for females in about two hours so that their BAC blood alcohol concentration is at.08 or higher. Less than half of college students (44%) binge drink occasionally or frequently. The Consequences The possible consequences of drinking too much can be serious. Some of the consequences students experience include academic problems, physical or sexual harm to the drinker or other people, or trouble with the police or authorities. Fortunately these consequences don t happen often. Harmful Misperceptions Students who have a misperception about how much their peers drink often feel pressured to drink or to drink more in order to fit in. So overestimating how much others drink can actually increase student alcohol use. The truth is that the majority of students are not heavy drinkers and they make responsible decisions. According to the Core Institute: 93% of students did not damage property while drinking 86% did not get in trouble with the police as a result of drinking 4% of students did not drive after drinking alcohol I think that a lot of college students are operating under the assumption that A everyone drinks, and B they re invincible. - Kim, Resident Assistant at College Dormitory Parents who discuss the dangers of drinking can have an impact on their child s choices. Begin a conversation with your child in any number of ways: Talk about college drinking misperceptions with your child and provide accurate information about what is normal alcohol use among college students. Discuss the potential consequences of drinking too much. Take advantage of everyday events to talk about alcohol or other drugs. Remember these communication tips: o Do not lecture or criticize your child o Do not interrupt before your child is finished speaking o Do not ignore or dismiss your child s feelings, ideas or concerns Page 2 of 8

3 Share the facts with your child When teenagers first get to college they may feel anxious about fitting in and making new friends. Sometimes they use alcohol or other drugs in social situations to feel more comfortable and have fun. However, after the first or second drink the euphoric feelings from alcohol end and the depressant effects kick in. Phase 1: The Good Feelings After a drink or two are consumed, the level of alcohol in the bloodstream slowly rises, accompanied by stimulating, happy feelings. This can make a person feel confident and social. However, that feel good attitude peaks once a certain amount of alcohol is consumed. Phase 2: The Negative Feelings Students who think alcohol will make them feel better tend to drink more, often unaware of its depressant effects. However, drinking more doesn t make that good feeling last because once the alcohol in the blood reaches a certain level, the negative effects take over. More than one or two drinks can begin to cause fatigue, social inappropriateness, lack of coordination, and slurred speech. Students that understand the effects of alcohol and know how to avoid peer pressure have the information they need to make wise choices when they are in social situations. Here are some ideas on how to begin those important conversations: Demystify the effects of alcohol by discussing the two phases. Let your child know that drinking more won t make that good feeling last. Talk about the social and emotional reasons that studenst drink such as social anxiety and peer pressure. Let your child know when it is best not to have any alcohol HALT (hungry, angry, lonely, or tired). Discuss ways to avoid peer pressure to drink, for example: o Carry around a non-alcoholic beverage to drink in order have something in your hand o Say, no thank you politely and convincingly when offered a drink; or ask for a soda instead HALT Don t drink when feeling Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired It is easy to become intoxicated quickly on an empty stomach. Since alcohol is a depressant it can also intensify negative feelings like anger or loneliness. And while alcohol increases fatigue, it makes sleep much less restful. Page 3 of 8

4 Communicating about the transition College can be very exciting for new students. Your child will be faced with many new choices and a new sense of independence, especially during the first couple of months. However, the transition to college can also be a challenge, and 1 out of 3 new students do not return after their first semester. The First Six Weeks The first six week are a critical time in determining a student s academic success. This is a period when some students get caught up in drinking which can interfere with studying and put them in risky situations. So it is particularly important for parents to stay involved in the early weeks. A Parent s Influence Parents have a great influence on their college-age children. Whether you approve or disapprove of your teenager drinking, it will affect the choices your child will make at college. Communicate Expectations Parents sometimes assume their expectations about alcohol use are clear to their children. However, this is not always the case occasionally children s perceptions are different from their parents actual expectations. And when teenagers perceive that their parents do approve of drinking, they are more likely to drink. When parents strongly disapprove of drinking: their children drink less and have fewer problems with alcohol their children are less likely to hang out with peers who drink The first six weeks on campus are a particularly critical time as students adjust to college life and make new friends. Try these strategies to help you stay involved during this critical time period: Talk with your child as often as possible by phone, , or text message once college starts. Find out how your child is doing ask about roommates and new friends, and find out how your child is spending free time. Plan to visit your child. Clearly communicate your expectations to your child about alcohol and other drug use. Be involved early in the process. If there is an orientation that addresses alcohol and drug policies, encourage your child to attend. If there is one for parents, attend it yourself. Find out if the college has a parental notification policy, should your child ever violate a campus policy. Page 4 of 8

5 Prevention Strategies Understanding how alcohol affects the body and minimizing its effects helps students make smart choices when it comes to drinking. Alcohol s Effects on the Body Our bodies can process 1.5 ounces of alcohol on one hour that equals a glass of wine, a can of beer or one mixed drink. When a lot of alcohol is consumed it depresses the central nervous system which causes our breathing and heartbeat to slow down. Too much alcohol is very toxic to the body. Risky Factors There are certain things that put a student at greater risk of experiencing alcohol s harmful effects. Some of these factors include: Fatigue Depressed mood Illness or medical conditions Medication or other drugs Genetics and a family history of alcoholism Low body weight and small height Female gender The campus environment can also increase the risk. For instance, on campuses where fraternities and sororities dominate the social scene, the likelihood of heavy drinking is higher. My son never knew that his dad is a recovering alcoholic, because his dad stopped drinking a long time ago. I told him that being in college and away from home means he has to be responsible about the things that he does, and this is one thing that he needs to be really careful about. - Parent of Sophomore College Student Minimizing the Risk Parents who discuss the dangers of alcohol consumption and prepare their children for the realities of campus life can help reduce the temptation to join in when others are drinking. It is also key for parents to model responsible behavior when it comes to alcohol. Prevention means helping your child make wise decisions about alcohol from the get-go. Make time to talk to your child about these prevention strategies: Discuss how alcohol affects the body and the factors that can increase the risk of experiencing harm from drinking. Share your family history. Children are more at risk of experiencing alcoholism or drug addiction if they have family members with substance abuse problems. Should your child choose to drink at some point during the college years, you may want to discuss responsible drinking strategies, such as: o Drink slowly and don t exceed your limit o Don t drink on an empty stomach o Alternate an alcoholic drink with a non-alcoholic beverage o Avoid drinking games Page 5 of 8

6 Warning Signs The independence and freedom experienced by college students comes with a flip-side: responsibility. Many college students admit to feeling anxious and worried; and freshmen are often hit hardest. Signs of Stress Stress can affect college students in different ways. Here are some telltale signs that stress has begun to take a toll: Sleep sleeping more or less; difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep Appetite loss of appetite or eating more Emotions moody; gets angry or cries easily Mental state difficulty concentrating; anxiety over everyday things Sociability withdraws from friends and family; increasing use of alcohol or other drugs Coping with Stress Since stress is unavoidable, it is important to help students learn to cope with it effectively. Turning to alcohol or other drugs as a stress-reliever can actually make the situation worse. Proven strategies to cope with stress include regular exercise, healthy nutrition (particularly cutting back on caffeine and sugar), and fun social activities. Seeking Assistance Some students might benefit from counseling through the campus counseling or wellness center. Counseling is confidential and will not appear on a college student s records. Support from a professional can be just what some students need to cope with stress. According to research, nearly 60% of college students feel worried or anxious. When the stress level is manageable, college can be a fun and rewarding experience. Help your child learn to identify the warning signs of stress early and develop healthy coping strategies. Discuss the signs of stress with your child and come up with a list of coping strategies that your child can use. Talk with your child regularly at college and be on the lookout for any changes in your child s mood, or sleeping and eating patterns. Notice if your child starts to withdraw socially or seems extremely anxious. If your child has difficulty coping with stress or begins to drink heavily, you may want to suggest counseling. Page 6 of 8

7 Support for Students College is a major milestone towards increasing independence for a child. While many children are ready for this new experience, it can also be daunting to leave behind family, friends, and a familiar environment. New students need support to make the transition to college a smooth one support not only from parents but also from their new campus community. Social Support Friendships at college are an important source of support for students. Building relationships with peers, staff, and faculty can significantly affect your child s adjustment at college. Students with strong social networks are also less likely to abuse alcohol or drugs. Campus Resources Campuses have different resources to help students adjust to college and promote their health and safety. Campus health centers provide medical primary care to students and campus counseling services offer confidential support. Colleges also have police or security departments which often provide an escort service for students at night and call boxes located around the campus for use in an emergency. Campus Policies Campus policies help to create an environment in which students can learn. Typically campuses have substance use, anti-hazing, and good Samaritan policies, as well as party registration mandates and regulations about drinking at sporting events. Every campus has slightly different policies but they all comply with State and Federal laws. Encourage your child to get involved with co-curricular activities to meet other students with similar interests. Campuses have many different options such as sports, theatre, music, student publications, and faith-based organizations. Find out what campus resources are offered at your child s college and be sure your child has a phone number for each one the campus health center, counseling services, police or security department, academic support, and campus transportation services. With your child review the campus policies they can usually be found posted on the college website or on MyStudentBody.com. Heavy drinking can interfere with how students acclimate and form healthy relationships. Page 7 of 8

8 Rules and Regulations College students and their parents should be aware of the laws and campus policies about alcohol and other drugs, as well as the consequences if these regulations are violated. It s the Law The laws about alcohol and other drugs apply even on a college campus. So college students need to know that it is illegal to: Drink under the age of 21 Drive under the influence of alcohol Provide alcohol to a minor The penalty for breaking the law varies by state and can include losing your driver s license, paying a fine, or spending time in jail. Know Your Campus Policies Colleges and universities also have their own policies regarding alcohol and other drugs. The policies differ at each campus and so do the consequences. As a parent with a son on financial aid, merit scholarships and some needbased loans I was explicitly clear with him about alcohol and drugs. I told him that if he did anything to jeopardize his financial package such as getting arrested for drinking, DUI s, etc. his college life would come to an abrupt end and that his scholarships would turn into loans that had to be paid off. - Rosalie, Parent of Freshman College Student Long-term Consequences In addition to the short-tem penalties for alcohol or other drug violations, a police record can affect college students future employment opportunities. For instance, an arrest for underage drinking can stay on a student s record for years and may impact their ability to get certified or licensed in some professions. Students will typically adhere to laws and policies that support their well-being and their future. So spend time talking about the rules and regulations with your child. Together, learn about the alcohol policies at your child s school and the consequences if they are violated. Find out the legal consequences for underage drinking in the state where your child will attend college. In addition to talking about the long-term consequences with your child, determine whether you feel there should be any additional personal consequences for violating regulations and expectations around alcohol and other drug use. Page 8 of 8

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