Spring Break is in full effect for college students across the nation.
Some students will simply take the time off to relax. Some might even use the time to study or catch up on readings. But for many, traveling and partying during spring break is something of a cultural cornerstone.
This makes spring break a particularly touchy time for students who show signs of addiction issues, as well as those who already have a diagnosis.
For the parents of college students, spring break behavior is often so outside the norm for most of the participants that it can be difficult to parse whether someone exhibits signs of worrying behavior, or if they’re simply engaging in a rare one-off along with their peers.
To help with this process, here are several key ways to identify the symptoms of substance abuse after spring break:
Take Note of Binge Drinking
This is one of the toughest areas to pin down during spring break celebrations because of the nature of many of the celebrations held by and for college students during this time.
The average spring break reveler imbibes massive amounts of alcohol:
- Male college students average 18 drinks per day
- Female college students average 10 drinks per day
- 50% of men report passing out or vomiting
- 40% of women report passing out or vomiting
- Outside of spring break, 50% of college students of both genders report drinking to excess at some point throughout the year
This provides a particularly convenient cover for problem drinkers. In a context where everybody is drinking to excess, their own behavior and symptoms of substance abuse can very well go undetected.
Expect better of your child. Ask them honestly about their drinking experiences during spring break, but don’t simply write off excessive drinking as normal. While they spent their holiday around higher than normal numbers of drunk people, remember to place this “one-off” event in the larger context of their drinking habits.
Look For Signs of Alcohol Poisoning
Even when many of their peers are drinking to excess, there remains a worrying level of drinking that the majority will not get close to.
Problem drinkers often develop high tolerances for alcohol, which can be confusing for their loved ones and peers who might not notice just how drunk they are slowly becoming.
This is why looking for the physiological signs of alcohol poisoning is so important. Expecting loud or brash behavior isn’t necessarily the best way to track problematic drinking.
Signs of alcohol poisoning include:
- Irregular breathing
- Lowered body temperature
These basic symptoms add up as proof that someone not only drank more than average, but enough to cause themselves harm.
Some students do indeed find themselves on the wrong side of alcohol poisoning due to inexperience, rather than chronic alcohol abuse. These students, with support from their family and friends, should take some time to consider their relationship to alcohol and whether it could develop into a problem.
However, if your child is already consistently drinking, a night leading to alcohol poisoning takes on an entirely different tone. It speaks of symptoms of substance abuse and a broader lack of self-control, rather than an isolated mistake.
Ask Honest, Pointed Questions About Your Child’s Spring Break
College students are notorious for alcohol abuse and promiscuity during spring break. Some parents place this in the larger context of the media-hyped concept of “hookup culture,” and worry that these opportunities for compulsive behavior could send their child down a dangerous path.
One important fact to keep in mind is that these behaviors are nothing new — and they haven’t increased in any meaningful way for the current generation.
If your child implies or says that they were in compromised or risky situations due to their drinking over spring break, it’s the perfect opportunity to open the conversation to how their nights of drinking go outside of spring break.
Fairwinds Is Here to Help
Worrying about spring break behavior is a common experience for the parents of college students. But that doesn’t erase just how dangerous these circumstances can be for a student with symptoms of substance abuse or impulsive behavior issues.
Fairwinds Treatment Center exists to help families and addicts deal with their symptoms of substance abuse directly. With an individualized approach for each patient, we welcome all parents seeking advice or treatment for their children as they cope with substance abuse issues in an environment as challenging as college. Contact us for more information on how we can help you and your student.