Have Open Communication With Your College-Age Kid

Have Open Communication With Your College-Age Kid
Posted by FoM on September 09, 1999 at 13:52:18 PT
Advises Kaiser Permanente Counselor
Source: Reuters Business News
This time of year, college students and parents are busy preparing for the upcoming academic year, and the challenges that accompany young people who may be experiencing their first few years of independence.
Along with serious discussions about study habits and financial responsibilities, Chris Wimmer, BSW, CCDCIII, adolescent chemical dependency counselor, advises parents to have an honest discussion about the dangers of alcohol and other substances on campus.In his practice at Kaiser Permanente's Brook Park Medical Offices, Wimmer has an opportunity to talk to kids and their parents about what they can expect to encounter while away at school. "Kids don't have to be alcohol-dependant to experience the dangers of drinking," he states. "Most of the problems we see are related to `binge drinking.'"The kind of drinking that takes place at most college parties can lead to several serious consequences that kids may not consider, such as: Under-aged drinking is illegal. People under age 21 who are caught drinking even small amounts of alcohol could face stiff penalties by the school or authorities, including academic probation or expulsion.Drinking in combination with driving is responsible for thousands of deaths each year. Almost 400 people in Ohio were killed last year in alcohol related crashes.Sexual behavior, unintended date rape situations, decisions about contraception and safer sex practices are a particular danger for college-age kids who consume alcohol.Vomiting and passing out: someone who passes out has no control over what is happening to their body - a particular danger for young women. Also, there are fatal dangers associated with drinkers choking on their own vomit while passed out.Drinking impairs coordination and motor skills, which makes the drinker more susceptible to falls or accidents. Alcohol dulls the sense of feeling. Someone suffering an injury while intoxicated may not realize it until they are sober after the injury has worsened.Additional complications could include mood swings, depression, personality changes, suicide attempts, aggressive or violent behavior, and social rejection by peers. Some studies have shown a direct correlation between the amount of alcohol a student drinks and his or her grades.The best tactic parents can take is to maintain an open line of communication with their kids about alcohol and substance abuse. "Many parents treat this the same as they do discussions about sex -- you have the talk with them, once, to explain the `birds and the bees,' and that's it. Kids need an ongoing dialogue, especially once they are old enough to experiment on their own," advises Wimmer However, it's still important for parents to listen to their what their kids have to say in order gauge their level of awareness.The average age for kids to start drinking is 10-13 years. Therefore, he suggests parents begin to talk seriously with kids before they reach middle school.Remember to lead by example. "The kids who have the best adjustments to social use of alcohol are those who observed their parents drink in moderation in an appropriate social context," explains WimmerParents should also be candid about their own experiences with the dangers of over-drinking. Its also important that parents continue the conversation throughout the school year. They should ask questions about the social scene on campus as it relates to drinking, and how the child is coping.While alcohol remains the leading substance danger for young people, marijuana use is becoming almost as common among high school and college students. Wimmer notes that he has also seen an increase in the use of ecstasy and LSD among the population he treats.Kaiser Permanente is the nation's largest and oldest group practice pre-payment health plan founded in 1945, providing comprehensive medical and hospital services to 8.5 million members in 17 states and the District of Columbia. Kaiser Permanente serves nearly 200,000 members in Northeast Ohio through the Ohio Permanente Medical Group practice with 350 physicians, 900 network affiliated physicians and 2,000 non-physician employees. Kaiser Permanente of Ohio received its second full three-year accreditation by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), the nation's toughest watchdog for managed care organizations. To learn more about Kaiser Permanente of OhioPlease Visit Our Website at: 8:00 AM ET September 9, 1999 
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