Signs Of A Drinking Or Drug Problem With Your College Student

Warning Signs of Drug Abuse or Alcoholism in College StudentsThe two or three months during the summer when your son or daughter returns home after being away at college should be a joyous reunion for parent and student alike, but for some families, worries about drinking or drug problems replace joy with concern. Your child may seem like a stranger to you, having lived away from home for months and developed all sorts of new habits, friends, and interests. Many typical college student behaviors – like keeping odd hours and enjoying seemingly bizarre pastimes – may be perfectly reasonable aspects of living away from home, exploring self-definition away from adult prying eyes and merely having innocent fun. How can you tell if your child is just a college student, or if a drinking or drug problem accounts for the new habits or behaviors you’re seeing?

Physical Signs of a Drinking or Drug Problem

There are specific physical indicators you may notice if your child is developing a drug problem. One or two of these physical symptoms may be better explained by other causes, especially if the symptoms go away quickly and don’t return. But if your child has a number of these symptoms and they seem to hang around stubbornly, you may be dealing with drug abuse or alcoholism.

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Behavioral Indicators of a Drinking or Drug Problem

Behavioral signs can be more difficult to identify as indications of a drug addiction or problem with alcohol. Many typical college student behaviors can mimic those of drug users – for example, excessive sleeping or never having any money. Getting a holistic sense of your child, regarding physical issues, behaviors and attitudes, can help you put the puzzle pieces into place. Some indicators to be aware of include:

What Can You Do?

Your child is no longer a child and there may be little you can do to intervene directly in his or her life. Privacy laws make your direct participation in medical or substance abuse treatment difficult. However, there are things you can do to pave the way for a lasting positive relationship with your child, and that will make it easier for both of you to handle any problems that do arise – even if drinking or drugs are not the issue at this time.

It’s safe to assume that your child’s experience is different from your own – whether or not you attended college. Academic pressure and an uncertain future colors this generation’s experience of college more negatively than previous generations. Aim to be someone your child feels he or she can talk to and trust, because if there is a problem, just identifying it and making them feel attacked for it will do the opposite of help. Be a source of strength and support for your child and communicate that, no matter what, you will be there for them — with healthy boundaries perhaps, but never without love, support and hope.

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