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College 101: Underage Drinking

July 19, 2013  |  Falmouth Enterprise

By Dr. Michael Bihari

Our role as parents do not stop when we drop our kids off for freshman orientation. Colleges and universities across the country are dealing with significant underage drinking and substance abuse, especially binge drinking and the use of stimulant medications such as Adderall.

It’s important that you learn about the drinking and pill abuse issues at the college your teen is attending. Schools vary in what they communicate to incoming students and how they handle such issues as underage drinking or academic doping. 

This article deals with the issue of drinking and sex. Additional articles in the College 101 series discuss academic doping (use of stimulants to enhance academic performance) and binge drinking. Please share these articles with your college-bound teen.

A Good Relationship Does Not Need Alcohol 

Having a few drinks may seem like a shortcut to get your daughter or son going in the right direction when trying to make a social connection, but those drinks can give a false sense of comfort. Drinking can put your teen in a situation that she or he will regret later.

Getting drunk and losing control can lead to unwanted and unsafe sex, increasing the risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and pregnancy. We want our kids to have caring relationships -- the whole nine yards -- but their chances of having the best relationships is definitely increased if drinking is not part of the experience.

Tips for College Women 

  • If you don’t want to drink, don’t! If you choose to drink, never drink to excess. To be safe, always stay in control. And remember, it is against the law to drink in every sate if you are under 21. The person, club, or fraternity hosting the party is in serious violation of the law.
  • Your thinking can get distorted when you drink. You may miss important signals, such as changes in the mood or behavior of someone you’re partying with and you will be less able to recognize and avoid potentially dangerous situations.
  • Work with your friends to take care of each other. If you don’t want to drink, hang out with friends who also don’t drink. You can have fun at a party without drinking. Work out a “warning system” with your friends before a party and use it if anyone seems to be having a difficult time.

Tips for College Men

  • Let other guys know that getting drunk and sexually aggressive is not cool!
  • When you are at a party, watch for other men and women who might be at risk and intervene. If you feel uncomfortable doing something alone, make someone else aware and help the person at risk together.
  • Violence of any kind is wrong. Be part of creating an atmosphere where out-of-control drinking is not tolerated.
  • A woman who has been drinking may be too impaired to “consent” to sexual relations. You and the woman may do something you both will regret later. Although you could be vulnerable to a serious charge of date rape, more important is the fact that you should be responsible and concerned for her well being.           

And, college students who are lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, or transgender can also be the victims of unwanted sexual activity related to alcohol use.


Sexual Assault Violence Protection: A resource from Vassar College about sexual assault and violence protection on a college campus.   

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