Parenting Tips Can Reduce Substance Use in First-Year College Students

(UW News) A handbook designed to help parents advise their young adult children leaving for their first year of college has been shown to increase family connections and moderate risky behaviors like drug and alcohol use, according to research by Washington State University and the University of Washington.

In an article published March 18 in Prevention Science, students whose families used the handbook reported their alcohol use over the past 30 days had increased 28% once they got to college, compared to a 39% increase among students whose parents didn’t receive the book. Cannabis use went up 23% for those control students, but only 16% for students whose families used the book.

“The handbook gives parents evidence-based guidance for threading the needle of supporting students’ autonomy and maintaining a parental role,” said Laura Hill, a WSU professor in the Department of Human Development and corresponding author on the paper. “It’s not about telling students what to do or to not drink. It’s about supporting and guiding them to reinforce expectations that have been set over the previous 18 years of parenting.”

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