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Keep an eye on your college kid's drinking

Your child worked hard to get into college. They kept their grades up all through high school. You watched them struggle with math and completing papers. There were days when you found them creating flashcards. Sometimes they went to the coffee shop to study with friends. The day the acceptance letters for college started rolling in, you were beaming with pride.

Now your child is away at college. The beginning of the year went well. You could tell from their updates that they were still studying hard and doing good work. Now that summer is here, you are hearing from your young scholar less and less. They are staying with friends near their Nevada-based campus and you have some concerns.

How to address your concerns

You know that college brings new experiences. There will be new friends, activities and personality changes. Along with all of this comes some partying. You know your child will partake in this college right, but you are afraid that things might have gone too far. Maybe their drinking is more of an issue. You can take action to see what's going on.

  • Ask questions. Prod your child to get them to open up. Take an interest in their new life. Don't be afraid to go ahead and ask about partying or drinking. If your child is comfortable talking with you about these topics, you are better equipped to spot an issue.
  • Watch for signs of addiction. If your child becomes withdrawn, has sudden mood swings or displays major, unexplained physical changes, they may be addicted.
  • Look at finances. Supporting an addiction costs money. If you have access to accounts or help pay their bills, take note of how much is spent each month. Look for frequent withdraws or purchases at places that sell alcohol.
  • Discuss modes of transportation. You want your kid to be safe while partying. Talk to them about how they are getting to and from the bar. Suggest that they store cab company numbers in their phone and download rideshare apps.
  • Set up a routine check-in. Your kid is enjoying being on their own. Them contacting you less regularly could just mean that they are adapting to this new lifestyle. As a parent, you can request a weekly or bi-weekly chat. Choose a method that works best for both of you.
  • Schedule in-person or video visits. If you have the means, travel to see your child in person every few months. If not, request video communication so that you can see their physical appearance, facial expressions and body language. These all can help your judgement.

Your concerns about your child are valid. Drinking can lead to serious criminal issues such as public intoxication or DUI charges. If charged, your child's schooling, future job prospects and licensures could be at stake. Keep the lines of communication open. As a parent, you are allowed to be concerned and check-in. Stay calm and collected. Support your child's academic successes and passions as they go through this important adventure.

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