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Alcohol dependence amongst students: parents’ primary concern

If you’re a parent, and one or more of your children are off to university in the autumn, what’s your main worry about it all?

Your answer may be somewhere in this list:

  • Campus and off-campus safety
  • The accruing student debt
  • Accommodation cost
  • Illness, including sexually transmitted diseases, mental health problems, and the development of a disorder, e.g. binging on food at night to combat loneliness or to deal with stress
  • The difficulty of the course, if it is really the right one, if it will lead to a career
  • How you’ll cope with an empty nest
  • Excessive drinking amongst students

Worried sick

Anxiety amongst parents about the dangerous drinking culture (that includes potentially lethal drinking games) at universities is increasing.

And it’s not just while their sons and/or daughters are socially active during term time that parents feel worried about how much alcohol is being consumed. Spring, summer, Christmas and Easter holidays are also worrying periods, as Liz* – a mother of three daughters who are all away at uni – explains: “I suppose I assumed that when my three girls got older and inevitably headed off to university, I would see them in the holidays. I thought the year would be broken up into segments, and they would still spend a lot of time here at home. But it hasn’t worked out that way.

“I rarely see the girls,” Liz continues, “On the one hand; I think it’s a positive sign. They must be happy if they can’t even tear themselves away for the holidays throughout the academic year. But on the other hand, I find myself feeling worried sick about the social side. The regular alcohol consumption level amongst young women across the country these days is beyond belief, compared to when I was their age. And I know thousands of other worried parents across the country feel the same.”

*All names have been changed.

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