What puts children who are going away to college most at risk for developing problems with addictive substances? One point of view suggests that those who are “overprotected,” or those whose parents and guardians are likened to “helicopters,” are the ones who will more quickly fall into binge drinking and other dangerous behaviors.
Helicopter Parents Can Cause Drug Use, Binge Drinking
“Just this month The Atlantic published an article by Caitlin Flanagan that argues Helicopter Parents are causing binge drinking at college.” It isn’t exactly a study done by NIDA, but it’s not difficult to imagine, either, that there’s a correlation between overprotective parents and new college students who get into trouble. Particularly if the student had been pushed toward high academic success in high school and didn’t have, or wasn’t allowed to have, much by way of social experiences, he or she is much more likely to experiment and overindulge.
As discussed previously, “intense pressure to excel at everything” in high school is a catalyst for seriously questionable behaviors. Whether it’s abusing amphetamines in those grades or abusing alcohol in their first year of college, these students often react to the pressures put upon them with substances. Where high school students still live under the watchful eyes of parents, though, college students are likely out on their own for the first time and have much less observation of their habits and activities. Even a “helicopter parent” may be ignorant of these behaviors.
It’s sadly ironic that the demographic most valued in universities, those who are high achievers and who are involved in a variety of extracurriculars, are the ones who may be most at risk for binge drinking and using addictive substances. Institutional pressure doesn’t end with college, of course, since these people still want and need to find internships and jobs, but they are also living more independently and make more of their own choices. As a result, they can choose to live more wildly than before, resulting often in struggling in classes, sickness, and much more perilous situations.
Unfortunately, those who have had their earlier lives molded so precisely for them “are likely ill-prepared to negotiate their way through life without a parent to create structure.” Though professors and advisers offer a little of that structure, most of it is self-motivated and cannot be followed through without the efforts of the student. Described as “emotional coddling,” the reinforcement provided by parents during high school and earlier comes with its own share of problems, but once it vanishes completely, those young people aren’t always able to find their own way. They flounder, finding themselves suddenly with little to no boundaries at all, and what once might have guided them to some success now proves to be a disadvantage.
That is putting it mildly, if you consider all the dangers associated with binge drinking and drug use in colleges. Students who enter without much of an ability to handle “real world” challenges will find themselves much less able to adapt to tempting situations. They may indulge in drugs and alcohol because they are no longer under the watchful eyes of adults, or they may push their limits because of an inability to deal with social pressure and expectation. Either way, the results can be disastrous.
What, then, can a parent do to best prepare a son or daughter for the college experience? Maintaining open lines of communication is a good place to start, though take care not to fall into that “helicopter” category. Similarly (and perhaps worse), don’t get in touch with professors or advisers about grades; your child will never be self-sufficient if everything is done for them, particularly if action doesn’t need to be taken. Finally, if you haven’t been already, “insist your child pay for part of [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][his or her] education” so that they learn responsibility and the value of money. These steps may be small, and they certainly aren’t enough if addictive substances have already taken hold, but they are important in helping your child grow as a young adult.
If you have concerns about your son or daughter with respect to addictive substances, then get in touch with The Bergand Group. The Bergand Group is Maryland’s leading addiction recovery center and offers support for those struggling with addiction and mental health issues, including medication management strategies. We can help you to work through your addiction in a safe and healthy environment where everyone is committed to your care.
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About The Bergand Group:
At The Bergand Group in Baltimore and Harford County, Maryland, our therapists have more than twenty years of experience in the mental health and addiction fields. Our focus is on providing comprehensive mental health care and appropriate care for addictive disorders. We offer both alcohol rehab and drug rehabilitation. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol or substance addiction, there is help available. We also offer several other services, including family therapy and counseling. We can help. Contact us today.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]