A Message to Parents About High-Risk Drinking At College

The first 6 weeks of college for first-year students are critical to their success; about 1/3 fail to enroll for their second year. 

1,700 college students die each year from alcohol-related injuries including motor vehicle crashes.  

Alcohol is the most abused drug, and about 25 % of college students report negative academic consequences because of their drinking including missing class falling behind, doing poorly on exams or papers and receiving lower grades overall.  31% of college students meet criteria for alcohol abuse diagnosis and 6 % for alcohol dependence diagnosis. 

Your child may be away at college, but you still have influence. 

Consequences of High-Risk Drinking

  • Alcohol Poisoning – can possibly lead to death 
  • Alcohol Depresses Nerves – that control involuntary action like breathing and the gag reflex which prevents choking 
  • Alcohol Interferes with Brain Development - causing potential learning impediments 
  • Violent Crimes - 95% of those on college campuses are alcohol-related 
  • Sexual Assault:  90% of college rapes involve alcohol use by either the victim or the assailant  
  • Academic Consequences – alcohol is associated with poor grades, absenteeism and higher rates of school dropout 
  • Criminal Records - violating alcohol related laws can result in a permanent criminal record interfering with future employment and post graduate work 
  • Students are Less Sensitive to Alcohol Effects – they can drink longer before feeling drowsy increasing the potential for injuries


What a Parent Can Do

  • Studies clearly show that parents remain a key influence on college students 
  • You know your student best - be alert to identifying crisis early 
  • Watch for drop in grades and deterioration of family relationships 
  • If students know or perceive parents’ disapproval of behaviors, they are less likely to engage in them  
  • Stay involved and stay in touch – inquire about classes, friends and extracurricular activities 
  • Encourage community service and other healthy activities to spend time and money 
  • Talk with your student – get and share facts  
  • Listen - lecturing doesn’t work 
  • Communicate risks and consequences associated with underage drinking 
  • Refrain from glamorizing alcohol use 
  • Make your expectations extremely clear – provide clear No-Use messages regarding underage drinking 
  • Model good behaviors concerning alcohol, tobacco and prescription medicines 
  • Parents can still play a major role in preventing alcohol problems


Know the Laws

Ohio Colleges support all federal, state and local laws regarding alcohol

  • It is illegal for people under age 21 to drink or possess any alcoholic beverage. 
  • It is illegal for any person to possess an open container of alcohol in a public place or in a motor vehicle. 
  • It is illegal for any person to possess, create, sell or distribute a fake ID.  This is a 4th degree felony. 
  • It is illegal to buy, share the cost or provide alcohol to persons under age 21.  
  • It is illegal for people under 21 with a blood alcohol content of .02 or higher to operate a motor vehicle. 
  • It is illegal to knowingly allow a person under 21, other than your own child, to remain in your home or on your property while consuming or possessing alcohol. 
  • It is illegal as a parent, to give alcohol to your teen’s friends under the age of 21 under any circumstance, even in your own home, even with their parent’s permission.



Drug Free Action Alliance brings together more than 46 colleges and universities to form campus and community coalitions to reduce the environmental influences that condone or promote high-risk drinking.

oh college intiativeThe initiative focuses on five strategies for reducing the environmental influences of high-risk drinking: 

  • Restrict marketing and promotion of alcohol 
  • Improve social, recreational, and academic options 
  • Limit alcohol availability 
  • Increase consistent enforcement of laws and policies 
  • Create a health-promoting environment (includes correcting perceptions of social norms)