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University of Michigan to Notify Parents of Repeat Alcohol Offenses

James arrived at his university having never tried alcohol in his short 22 years of life. He came from a strict religious upbringing and his parents had managed to successfully shelter him from temptation. When finally left to his own devices, however, his curiosity quickly took over.

Soon, James began to experiment with both alcohol and drugs.

Unaware of the full consequences of his substance and alcohol abuse, he offered to drive his friends home after a night of drinking and smoking pot. Less than a mile from the party they just left, James’ car veered off the road and into a ditch, flipping end-over-end repeatedly. One of three passengers was killed, while another suffered injuries that would require surgery and years of painful physical therapy.

Collegiate Warnings to Parents

Teenager holding different color alcoholsTo help avoid tragedies such as this one, the University of Michigan recently announced (via e-mail) that parents of any student under the age of 21 will now be informed if their child has a second alcohol or drug violation.

They will also be notified if any of these violations also involve needing medical intention, driving under the influence or significant property damage.

The bold move is part of a new pilot program being launched on the campus this fall. University officials said the primary focus of the program will be on first-year students because research shows they are at an-risk population for binge drinking and other dangerous forms of substance abuse.

“At U-M, we strive to create a caring community,” read the e-mail sent out by E. Royster Harper,vice president for Student Life, and Eddie Washington, executive director for the Division of Public Safety and Security. “The safety of our students is our No. 1 priority. Our actions are intended to reduce the risk of harm and increase the safety of every student.”

Proactive Prevention

U-M’s Office of Student Conflict Resolution said the number of alcohol and drug-related instances on campus has increased in recent years. Data shows that 465 of these matters were addressed during the 2013-2014 academic year, compared with 404 the previous year.

The vast majority of alcohol-induced medical transports, it is hard alcohol—rather than beer or wine—that lands students on a hospital gurney.– Phil Hanlon Other colleges and universities have taken even more drastic measures to try and curb substance abuse and problem drinking. One of the more recent examples is Dartmouth College, who announced that as of March 30, hard alcohol would be banned on their campus. The new policy is also accompanied harsher punishments for possession of hard alcohol and providing alcohol to minors.

“The Steering Committee found that high-risk drinking is far too prevalent on our campus,” said Dartmouth President Phil Hanlon. “The vast majority of alcohol-induced medical transports, it is hard alcohol—rather than beer or wine—that lands students on a hospital gurney.”

The Value of Open, Honest Conversation

Before your child heads off to college, have an honest conversation with them about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. Let them know that although they’re an adult and can make their own decisions, the same consequences still apply at any age.

Unsure where to start? Take Our Substance Abuse Self-Assessment

Take our free, 5-minute substance abuse self-assessment below if you think you or someone you love might be struggling with substance abuse. This evaluation consists of 11 yes or no questions that are designed to be used as an informational tool to assess the severity and probability of a substance use disorder. The test is free, confidential, and no personal information is needed to receive the result. Please be aware that this evaluation is not a substitute for advice from a medical doctor.

Additional Reading: Back to School: 9 Tips for Talking to Your Teen About Drug Use