In It For Health

Where health and psychology intersect

Posts Tagged ‘college’

The grim reality of spring break

Posted by Dr. Susan on April 3, 2010

It’s too bad that it takes a 17-year old with the prospect for a glowing future to remind us how dangerous spring break can be for high schoolers. When Ohio high school senior Matt James (headed for Notre Dame on a football scholarship), fell from a balcony to his death after drinking too much during spring break in Florida, we all stopped for 5 minutes to shake our heads and those of us with high school students were grateful that it wasn’t our kid.

But the thing is that unless you make the choice to supervise your teen on spring, winter and every other break it could just as easily be your kid! There is no specific type…most kids drink; many get drunk–they just don’t tell their parents. In fact, one national study (conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention) found that nearly 75% of high school students have had one or more alcoholic drinks in their life. That’s any kid–your kid or my kid!

Every teen’s life is worth saving, every teen has a glowing future and should have a chance to make better choices when their brain has developed and along with it, their judgment. Until then, it is the job of the adults–parents, teachers, chaperones, even hotel owners, to make sure that teens are well supervised and kept safe: even from themselves.

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Amethyst update

Posted by Dr. Susan on August 26, 2008

Here’s a great article  from Slate Mag. taking a look at the Amethyst Initiative!

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Should the drinking age be lowered? I don’t think so!

Posted by Dr. Susan on August 19, 2008

A movement, called the Amethyst Initiative, which was begun by university presidents, that has just now come to public awareness, asks that the drinking age be lowered to 18 as a way to end binge drinking on college campuses. If you read  their point of view, you might be think it sounds logical…the premise is that college kids binge drink because drinking is taboo. So if we take away that element, they’ll stop doing binge drinking and begin to sip alcohol responsibly like forty-year olds. Sorry, I don’t buy it! With this logic, perhaps we should just lower the drinking age to 14, so that high-school kids would also stop drinking too much or stop going on binges that land them in hospital ER’s every weekend.

But seriously, let’s not forget that raising the drinking age has drastically reduced the number of teens who drink and the number of drunk driving accidents amongst teens. the Amethyst Initiative is a cop-out! How about if college presidents spend a little more time actually making sure that the students on their campuses are safe, rather than blaming the problem on state regulations. Perhaps they should spend more time educating students, of binge drinking  which has been shown to be effective in reducing binge-drinking, and more time on monitoring the activities of fraternities and other groups that encourage binge drinking.

The reality is that some teens will drink too much when they go to college because it is part of the right of passage of leaving home and exerting their independence. They would do this regardless of the drinking age. However, research shows that the teen brain is not fully developed and doesn’t become so until after twenty-one. The areas of good judgment and impulse control are the last to mature. Lowering the drinking age will only give teens and young adults greater access to alcohol, during a time when they are not yet mature enough to make good decisions. The fact that they are already binge drinking is already proof of this!

As adults we always encourage kids to take responsibility for their own behavior. I encourage university presidents to take this same stand about their universities, rather than blaming the problem on the drinking age.

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A twist on teens who smoke

Posted by Dr. Susan on May 12, 2008

I just read this study which gives parents yet another headache to worry about–but an important one, worthy of concern and particularly worthy of discussing with your teenager. It finds that there is an increase in college students who smoke hookahs–you know water pipes–Alice in Wonderland style–for some people, perhaps otherwise known as water bongs. The tobacco passes through flavored water. Hookah bars are cropping up all over major (and even smaller) cities, further adding a ‘coolness’ factor to the activity, not to mention somehow making it seem okay. But the truth–that most teens (and many adults) don’t realize–is that hookah smoking is NO SAFER than smoking tobacco in any other form. It’s just as harmful to your body despite seeming more natural and  somehow ‘filtered’.

Another important bit of info–lots of high school kids are also taking up hookah smoking–in fact, I’d say the many start in high school and continue in college. So, while the article discussed here talks about interventions with college students, I’m much more concerned about parents finding out how their high schoolers are spending their weekends. I know many who hang out at hookah bars, getting hooked on tobacco. Schools should be including it in drug ed. programs and parents should be talking about it at the family dinner table along with all the cigarettes, alcohol and drugs.

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