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Is Your Child a Binge Drinker?

Parents need to be concerned about binge drinking when their children transition from high school to college. The transition from high school to college is a period accompanied by significant changes in drinking behavior that occur over a relatively short period. The college transition has been recognized as an important period for identifying risk factors for the development of problem drinking patterns that become more firmly established in college. The summer before college matriculation most students are living at home and parental guidance and support can be especially helpful for the emerging adult about to enter a more autonomous life style. Parents can help pave the way for a successful college transition by knowing the facts.

FACT 1: David K. Orion, an associate professor of neurology and Frances E. Jensen, a professor of neurology at Children’s Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School have been studying how thebrain develops. According to their research the human brain reaches full maturity between the ages of twenty-five and thirty years. The area of the brain that is last to mature is the frontal lobe section that is responsible for reasoning, planning and judgment.
An eighteen-year-old college freshman has many more years of brain formation and development until they reach full maturity. College age students do not have the judgment, organization and planning capability of an adult. Lack of judgment, planning and organization often will result in impulsive behavior and poor choices. In light of this information, parents should be aware that a college age student might not have the best of judgment when it comes to alcohol, drugs and protected sex.
FACT 2: We know that a property of the brain is its ability to be plastic throughout ones lifetime. Children and teenagers brains have a greater capacity for plasticity than adults and therefore can learn new things quicker. This greater capacity for plasticity makes children and teenagers brain more sensitive to stress, drugs and alcohol induced toxicity than adult brains. Jensen high – lights an experiment in which rat brain cells were exposed to alcohol, which blocks certain synaptic activity. When the alcohol was washed out the adult cells recovered while the adolescent cells remained “disabled”. If a student has been binge drinking over the weekend the effects of the alcohol will still be with them during the test on Thursday. Therefore, the student was trying to study with a self – induced learning disability!
FACT 3: According to the Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Study (CAS) published in 2008 that two in five students (44%) attending four-year colleges binge drink. Binge drinking is defined as the consumption of five or more drinks in a row for men and four or more drinks for women on one or more occasions during the 2-week periods immediately before the survey. Binge drinking is so dangerous because most alcohol related harms experienced by college students occur among drinkers captured by the five/four measure of consumption. The CAS report demonstrated that students who reported alcohol related injuries, 53 % drank five or fewer drinks in a row and 21% had eight or more. Therefore, students drinking four or five drinks in a row are in danger of alcohol related injuries.
FACT 4: One of the factors that will predict if a student will have a drinking problem in college is their parent’s attitude about underage drinking. Don’t kid yourself by thinking that drinking is a rite of passage because it is not. It damages developing minds and bodies.
This means that a student’s brain development could be severely compromised by consuming alcohol during this period of time. Additionally, drinking could be a students attempt to deal with an underlying mental health issue.
If you are one of the parents who say, ” I let them drink at home instead of going outside because it is safer.” or “I think it is ok if he has one drink.” or ” I want them to drink during senior year in high school so they can get the hang of it before they go to college.” Then you seriously need to educate your self and rethink your stance on underage drinking.
Check back in two weeks to learn more facts about binge drinking from, A Parents Handbook About College Drinking.
©2011 Wanda Behrens Horrell, All Rights Reserved

 

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