AUSTIN, Texas, Aug. 16, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- With college campuses reopening, advocates are warning that the first weeks of the semester are the riskiest and most dangerous for drinking among students, especially those who are underage. With consequences including impaired driving and motor vehicle crashes also more likely, Texas's leading advocacy coalition on youth underage drinking and substance use prevention urged heightened awareness and coordinated action among parents and campus officials.
Texans for Safe and Drug-Free Youth highlighted data from last year's Texas Survey of Substance Abuse Among College Students (TSCS), which shows: 73% of college students and 62% of underage students reported ever using alcohol.
In addition to alcohol, marijuana is among the most frequently used substances on campuses. According to TSCS, 37.7% of college students reported ever using marijuana, and the vast majority (94%) of students who reported that they used drugs at least once during the academic year say that marijuana was the drug used.
First Six Weeks are Critical
First-year students are the most vulnerable as they experience new social settings and environments, and the first several weeks of campus life are the most critical for awareness, prevention and intervention. Reaching students early is essential: According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, from the time they enter college until they reach the legal drinking age of 21, the number of college students with an alcohol use disorder nearly doubles.
"College can be an incredibly exciting time," said Nicole Holt, CEO of TxSDY. "But everything can change very quickly with alcohol in the mix. As adults, we must do everything possible to make sure our kids – even as college students – are supported and encouraged to make good decisions, limit risks, and stay on a path to success."
College Drinking, Marijuana Use, and Motor Vehicle Crashes
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism estimates more than 1,500 college students die each year from alcohol-related accidents and injuries, including motor vehicle crashes. In Texas, 28% of drivers in alcohol-related crashes and 25% of drunk drivers killed in fatal car crashes were age 25 or under. Even still, 12% of Texas college students report driving after drinking at least once in a month.
According to the CDC, the risk of being involved in a car crash also increases with marijuana use, which can impair coordination, distort perception, and lead to memory loss and difficulty in problem-solving.
A full quarter of all students experience academic problems as a result of drinking – and binge drinking leads to even more severe challenges: Students who binge drink are five times more likely to miss class and six times more likely to perform badly on an exam or assignment.
Parents and campus officials play equal parts in keeping students safe and healthy. Research repeatedly shows that parents are the most effective influence on their children's decision-making, and maintaining open, honest communication with their kids – before and after leaving for college – can have a dramatic impact. Schools must have protective measures in place – and enforce them. According to TSCS, nearly 40% of students did not know if their school had any policies concerning student alcohol use, and more than half did not know if their school had a drug and alcohol abuse prevention program. Schools must increase awareness of all resources available to students, as well as take active steps to enforce policies intended to protect students.
For more information on alcohol use trends among college students go to: https://txsdy.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/TxSDY_Alcohol-Use-Trends-Among-College-Students.pdf and to learn more about college campus alcohol policies visit https://cap.txsdy.org.
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SOURCE Texans for Safe and Drug-Free Youth