Even if your child is graduating from high school this spring and heading off to a Georgia college this fall, it isn’t too late to talk about binge drinking.

Binge drinking occurs when someone drinks a lot in a short period of time. That typically is defined as having four or five drinks within a few hours. And what’s one drink? That’s five ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer or 1.5 ounces of hard alcohol, according to the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.

While an agency survey showed that binge drinking has dropped among college students over the past decade – the numbers showed that binge drinking fell from 40% to 32% of students – those numbers still are startling. Binge drinking has been shown to have a negative impact on students’ overall health, as well as their safety – especially if they get behind the wheel of the car after a night of excessive drinking.

College students often go on a binge drinking spree without thinking of the consequences, instead thinking it will help them to fit in. Instead, however, it can lead to dangers.

So, just what can you say to your children about binge drinking?

Once they are at school, living in the dorm, listen as they tell you what they are up to, what the social scene is like on campus to get an idea of what’s going on. The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids recommends setting a regular time to talk each week and mixing in a message about the dangers of drinking with chats about classes and new friends. These conversations should continue well beyond the first few weeks of school.

Also, ask your child about their sleep patterns and class attendance. These could offer clues about their drinking habits.

If you suspect your child is overusing alcohol, reach out to the campus health center to find out what resources there are on campus for support and intervention, then share the information with your student. While this undoubtedly will be an uncomfortable situation for both of you, it is far better than to see your child go through medical or legal issues as a result of alcohol use.

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