This Thanksgiving holiday, take time with your son or daughter who is in college or university to find out what is really happening on campus, including the realities of drinking. A big part of the social scene is drinking alcohol and drinking to get drunk is the primary goal. Whether your student is of legal drinking age or not, it is critical to start or continue a conversation about smarter drinking choices.
Binge drinking is one of the most common behaviours in this age group. Binge drinking is 4 drinks or more for women or 5 drinks or more for men in a short time frame. Two of the most common behaviours associated with binge drinking are pre-drinking prior to going out and drinking games. Both of these activities promote excessive drinking and reinforce the trend in this age group to drink to get drunk.
In Algoma, 47% of 18-24 year olds report binge drinking at least monthly compared to 32% in Ontario.
“We know that pre-drinking, drinking games and binging lead to serious health related harms such as injuries, drinking and driving deaths, sexual assaults, vandalism, violence, and school suspensions,” says Deborah Antonello, a public health nurse working on alcohol related issues. “We encourage parents and guardians to talk with their children about safer alcohol use. Be candid about your expectations for their behaviour and help them to strategize ways to minimize their risks. As parents, you are their biggest role model so be safe and smart with your own alcohol use.”
Safer Alcohol Drinking Tips:
Set realistic limits for yourself
Have one non-alcoholic beverage for every alcoholic beverage consumed
Ensure that you eat before and while you are drinking alcohol
Always stay with a friend
Never get behind the wheel of a vehicle or with someone else who is impaired
Do not mix alcohol with medications or energy drinks
Algoma Public Health is working with local post-secondary institutions to raise awareness about alcohol risks and practical strategies for reducing alcohol harms. These initiatives include awareness events, social media messaging and education to residence advisors on low risk drinking guidelines.
A mini report on ‘Alcohol and Post-Secondary Students’ been released with facts and tips to help parents have this challenging discussion.