What parents need to discuss with their kids before studying abroad
In a recent study, researchers found that college students who study abroad are more likely to binge drink and use illicit drugs.
Although study abroad programs have many perks, it can entice students to try dangerous and potentially illegal behavior, according to a national survey conducted by On Call International, a travel risk management data company.
More than 1,000 current and recent graduates over the last two years were surveyed about their experience overseas. Survey results found that nearly half of former study abroad students said they had a higher alcohol intake while in a different country. While 11 percent reported they were more likely to black out while drinking, 29 percent used drugs while studying abroad and 11 percent said they tried drugs for the first time.
“Students might increase their drinking for various reasons,” says Marie Mauter, a licensed clinical social worker and an employee assistance program counselor at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, Ill. “Dining in Europe often includes wine or beer as part of the meal. Also, the legal drinking age in some countries is 18 years old, so many students are drinking legally for the first time.”
Mauter says it’s important for parents to discuss with their college student what can happen when living in a new country and going to school.
To help guide parents in this discussion with their children, she offers parents the following tips:
- Warn them about not caving into peer pressure with drinking and taking drugs.
- Risky behavior in a different country can be even more dangerous than stateside.
- Encourage them to notice how people in other countries usually drink in moderation, as opposed to “binge drinking.”
- Make sure to do research on the specific program and sign up for the U.S. Department’s Safe Travel Program.
The survey also recommended checking into “duty of care,” which will explain the responsibilities of the college and universities for the students studying abroad.
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