A Giant Leap of Faith

As the mother of a son who will be a senior in high school next year, I’m already looking ahead to sending him off to college. Mixed in with the many class celebrations will be a college visits and applications. I’m looking forward to all the excitement and anticipation that this process involves…and am resigned to the stress and worry that goes along with it. 

A child going off to college is a huge step. An empty (or less full) nest for the parents and a major leap of independence for the student. I recall feeling as though I was at summer camp my entire Freshman year of college—the freedom was intoxicating. Good choices are not always made. As irrelevant as I’ve sometimes felt to my teenagers during their high school experience, I know that my influence will fully fade into the background during their college years.

The risks will be there. Will our children be prepared to handle them?  Now is the time to make sure they know what to expect to find, and help them fully understand the possible consequences of experimenting with various substances. I was able to find and download a lengthy review of the most common substance abuse threats to the health of college students at https: www.drugwatch.com/students/, where the information was last updated on May 18, 2016. 

Along with binge drinking and marijuana, parents should be aware of the popularity of Adderall, known as “the study drug” on campuses. It’s a prescription drug developed for treating ADHD, but is widely abused by students without this diagnosis because of a heightened sense of motivation, focus and concentration. When students take this drug without a medical reason, they can easily become addicted to and dependent on the drug. They are also at risk for many harmful side effects. 

Over-the-counter drugs, such as cold medicines, are also a big problem.  They don’t require a prescription, are inexpensive, so it’s an easy way to get high. They typically will chug an entire bottle of cold or cough medicine, or take a package of the medicine in pill form.  More than 12,000 people each year are treated for overdoses of non-prescription medications—especially cough syrups. Abuse can lead to addiction and severe side effects, including death and brain damage.

OxyContin, a narcotic pain reliever that is now considered the most abused prescription drug in the U.S., has been reported to be easier for college students to obtain than alcohol. Students don’t realize how quickly they can become addicted. Again, brain damage and death are two potential risks.

These are a few of the popular drugs that parents may not know much about. They are being used and abused on college campuses. Help your child prepare for the risks, as well as the rewards, of independence so there are no regrets.