by Margaret Carels
The pandemic of the coronavirus is up-ending everyone’s lives, including our college-aged children. Many students have been sent home in order to finish out the semester with on-line classes. This may be a hard adjustment for the entire family, as students have gotten used to operating independently and experimenting with their new-found freedoms. This will be a good time to revisit our expectations around the use of drugs and alcohol.
Talk to your College Student about Drugs & Alcohol
When you talk about expectations around hygiene practices and social distancing, chores and helping around the house, be sure to talk about drugs and alcohol as well. Just like when they were in high school, set clear expectations and consequences. Remind them that the legal age for using alcohol and marijuana is 21. Using unprescribed drugs is both illegal and dangerous. Just because substance use, including marijuana, may be the unfortunate norm on campus, it does not mean it is the norm at home. Remember, it is their brains you are protecting and a potential addiction you are preventing.
Please remind your college students that they should not be providing alcohol to younger siblings and friends. High school students tell us that alcohol and some drugs are easily accessible to them, especially from their older brothers and sisters. Also, if you have alcohol or marijuana in the house, store it responsibly, preferably under lock and key. At the very least, take inventory and monitor levels. Prescription drugs need to be locked up and monitored as well.
With social distancing, we should not have to also worry about Social Host law infractions. Just as a reminder, it is against the law to serve or provide alcohol to underage guests or to allow them to drink alcohol in your home or on other property you control. If you do, you may be prosecuted criminally, fined up to $2,000, and/or imprisonment for up to a year.
Role Modeling during Difficult Times
Model good ways of handling stress and boredom with your teens. We send the wrong message if we normalize substance use to alleviate these issues. These difficult times might open us up to trying new things. Meditation, yoga, exercise, art – all are good ways to relieve stress and get our mind off the news, at least for a little while. Our kids are our partners in this. Find out what ideas they have.
Want more prevention tips? Visit 8 Prevention Tips for Parents
Margaret Carels is the Project Coordinator for the Milton Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition