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Pre-College Parental Chat May Reduce Freshman Drinking
Date:3/29/2013

he Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, show that teens who talked with their parents about anti-drinking strategies before they began their first year of college were more likely to fall into a non-drinking or light-drinking category, or to transition out of a heavy-drinking group if they were already heavy drinkers.

Talking with their child in the fall of freshman year was less effective or had no additional impact on drinking behaviors, Cleveland said.

He said some of the key points in the parent handbook include communicating to their kids that they will be faced with choices about drinking when they're off at college and they need to be prepared to make smart choices.

"One section covers how alcohol works in the body -- what it's doing, its physiological and psychological effects. There is also information on motives teens give for why they drink, and how to respond to peer pressure," Cleveland said.

Reinforcing that drinking is an illegal behavior and can have serious fallout is discussed in the handbook, too. "There's a constellation of risk behaviors linked to underage and binge drinking: car accidents, suicides and sexual assault," he added.

For example, car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens, and about one-third of those are alcohol related, according to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. What's more, each year about 12 percent of college students are assaulted by other students who have been drinking, according to the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Cleveland said a lot of parents have the idea that they help their teens by letting them drink at home, that it's safe because at least they know where their child is drinking. "But we know that when teens are asked about their parents permissibility, those students who had parents who were more permissive were more likely to be heavier drinkers later on," he said.

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