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How to talk to kids about drugs and alcohol before college

Drinking during college is common. In fact, a study performed by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found that nearly 60 percent of college students drank alcohol within the last month. That includes college students under the age of 21. A significant portion of that percentage binge drank alcohol. 

While colleges have programs to talk to students about the dangers of drinking too much, it is also important for the parents to play an active role. Any parents worried about how to breach the subject with their soon-to-be college student should keep these tips in mind. 

Maintain an open mind

Part of this conversation will involve a child bringing up information parents may not want to hear. For example, a parent may hear a child talk about drinking during high school. Parents should never shame kids for mistakes made in the past. Maintain an open mind, and make sure never to lecture a college student. Lecturing will most likely make the student tune out. 

Teach child how to say "no"

Even if a child is not a big drinker, college is a place full of temptation. Part of the conversation should revolve around students saying no without feeling they have to offer a reason why they are refusing alcohol.  

Lead by example

Kids notice what their parents do. Therefore, it makes sense for parents to practice what they preach and demonstrate responsible alcohol consumption on their own. 

Notice changes in child's behavior

Parents should play an active role in their children's best interests, even after they have been away at college for a while. Parents should take note if a former straight A student is now receiving Cs and Ds. Parents should also be mindful of significant physical changes once the child returns home. A drastic increase or decrease in weight or a general lack of motivation can indicate alcohol problems or other issues. 

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