Keep Talking to your College-Age Teens about Alcohol

As a parent, you continue to be a primary influence on your child’s life. You are key in helping them choose the right college and ensure safe living arrangements. You will also influence the decisions they make concerning alcohol use.

Discussing college drinking

Prior to sending a child off to college, parents should continue the conversation about alcohol and remind students about its risks and consequences.

  • First-year students living on campus may be at particular risk for alcohol misuse. During high school, college-bound teens tend to drink less than other classmates. During subsequent years, heavy drinking rates of college students surpass those of their non-college peers, contributing to serious difficulties with the challenges of college.
  • Early weeks are critical. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the first six weeks of the first semester are critical to a first-year student’s academic success. About one third of first-year students fail to enroll for the second year.
  • Living arrangements influence drinking behavior. Drinking rates are highest in fraternities and sororities, followed by on-campus housing. Students who live independently off-site (i.e. in apartments) drink less, while commuting students that live with their families drink the least.
  • Environmental influences may work with other factors to affect students’ alcohol consumption. Excessive alcohol use is more likely to occur in colleges:
    • Where Greek systems dominate (i.e. fraternities, sororities)
    • Where athletic teams are prominent
    • Located in the Northeast
  • Environmental, social and cultural influences combine to promote drinking as a right of passage. Communities, colleges and individuals including parents must work together to prevent this culture of drinking from ruining or ending the lives of college students. (via

Parents can help

To stay involved during this critical time, parents should

  • Inquire about campus alcohol policies.
  • Call sons and daughters frequently.
  • Ask about roommates and living arrangements.
  • Talk about risks.
    • Penalties for underage drinking
    • Date rape, violence and academic failure associated with alcohol use

    The most effective deterrent to alcohol and drug use isn’t the police, prisons or politicians – it’s YOU.


For more information, contact PRAIRIE VIEW PREVENTION SERVICES at 1-800-343-9272

PARENTS MATTER  :  South Dakota Department of Public Safety


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