Four Signs Your College Student Could Be Abusing Drugs or Alcohol

It’s difficult to send your child off to college. If they’re a college student and not living at home, you no longer have any control over what they do with their days. For young adults, the first time away from parental control can be quite a transition, a change in which sometimes too much partying can play a role in poor academic performance. If you’re a parent who is concerned that your child might become involved with drugs or alcohol, here are some clues you can look for that your child may be on a path to trouble.

  1. Social Media Reports of Partying or Drug Use

    – Young people don’t have the same thoughts about privacy that their parents might. They tend to “overshare” on social media, which is good news for parents. Be sure that you have access to your children’s social media accounts and can see what they are posting. Lots of young people write honestly about not only the parties they attend, but also other substance abuse, like using stimulants such as Adderall to stay up and study. Kids that are partying a lot might be taking club drugs in addition to drinking. Know what your kids and their friends are posting about.


  1. Meet Your Children’s Friends

    – This can be hard to do if your college student has gone far away to school and it is difficult for you to visit for things like parents’ weekend. If visiting campus isn’t possible, invite your kids to bring their friends home on breaks. You want to find out if your child is hanging out with good people, or if they’ve found themselves with students who are under-motivated, or as bad, total stress cases. Unless you want to go to a very competitive graduate program, there’s no difference between a B and a B+. Employers don’t care whether your GPA was a 3.2 or a 3.6. You want your kid to spend time with good people who take school seriously, but are not in a panic about every mark.


  1. Fear of Missing Out

    – This is a trait common in today’s college students – a fear of missing out on life. They’ve been so pushed in high school to be involved in every activity on the planet to get into college that they feel they must keep up that pace the rest of their lives. Speed, particularly stolen or street-procured prescription meds, often is a way to keep going. Encourage your child to try new activities, then focus on what truly brings him/her happiness. You’re looking at this stage for robust activities that can become the foundation for employment, volunteer work, or hobbies for the rest of their lives.


  1. Too Much or Too Little Money

    – While it is not uncommon for young adults to go a little over-the-top with credit cards in the first months or couple of years out on their own, those who have far too much or too little money may be throwing up a red flag about drug involvement. Kids who have means but can never make it to the end of the month could be using. Individuals with no means who are suddenly flush with cash could be dealing, especially if they have access to prescription medications to sell. Keep your eye on your child’s finances.


While none of these situations alone is an absolute surety that your child is abusing drugs or alcohol, each could be an opportunity for discussion and a way to open the door to better communication between you and your now adult child.


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