Why do underage university students drink alcohol?

Your child leaves for college, and all you can think about are those teen movies that show plenty of college freshman drinking and partying. Is that really what college is like in 2019? After all, roughly half of college students are still too young to drink, and underage drinking is still illegal, even if it's part of "college culture."

Your concern is that your child could make some poor decisions and get arrested. If that happens, will they get kicked out of school? Will they lose their scholarships? Will it impact their options for a future career? You know that college itself is a stepping stone toward success, but you do not want one mistake to derail all of that.

One of your biggest questions, then, is why college students even drink alcohol in the first place. If you can understand that, you think you can explain the risks to your child. There are a lot of different reasons, including:

  • They use it as a social lubricant. College can feel overwhelming and they meet a lot of new people. Having a drink or two often helps them relax and open up, and they feel like they can use that to make friends.
  • They want to fit in. You are not the only one who thinks of drinking as part of the college culture. So does your teen. They want to fit in with their peers and they may think they have to drink to do it.
  • They want to relax. College is stressful. Teens suddenly have to live on their own, make adult decisions, go to more challenging classes, study for difficult exams and work part-time jobs. They do all of this while racking up incredible amounts of student debt and hoping they chose the right career path at 18 years old. That stress may drive them to drink as a way to get away from it.
  • They drank in high school. Whether you know it or not as a parent, odds are good that your teen drank in high school. When researchers asked seniors if they had, 42% percent admitted to it. The total may really be higher if some, knowing it was illegal, said they didn't drink when they really did.
  • They think it's fun. For teenagers who did not drink before college, it may feel new and fun and adventuresome. To a large degree, that's how they think of college as a whole, and drinking is just part of it.

You cannot make decisions for your child. They may get arrested for underage drinking, supplying to minors, drunk driving and other related crimes. When that happens, you need to know what legal options they have in South Carolina to protect their future.

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