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Why do underage college students drink?

On Behalf of | Nov 17, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

As a parent whose child is going off to college, you may worry about underage drinking. You know the reputation that college has in the United States. You may have even gone to college yourself, so you may have seen the kind of underage drinking that happens on many campuses firsthand. Underage drinking does happen, despite being illegal, and there is a chance that your child could one day be arrested as a result of that reality.

Why do so many college students break the law in this way? Many students follow all other laws and regulations, and they rarely (if ever) get in trouble with the authorities. But they may still decide to drink, even knowing that negative consequences could result from their behavior. Why is this?

The influence of peer pressure

There are numerous reasons why, but one of them is peer pressure. For instance, the “Greek” system at many colleges allows people to join sororities and fraternities. These groups hold social gatherings where drinking is common and where new students may even be pressured to drink more than they want to. This can often lead to binge drinking. It’s not necessarily something that those students would’ve done on their own. They are only (or primarily) doing it because of the peer pressure that they’re facing.

A social lubricant

Even for those who aren’t facing direct peer pressure, the social side of drinking is often very important to college students. Many students use alcohol as a “social lubricant” while they are meeting new people and having new experiences. This is likely their first time living on their own, and it can be overwhelming and stressful. They may use alcohol as a way to try to fit in or reduce their stress in new environments.

Less supervision

Finally, it’s worth noting that many college students have less direct supervision for the first time in their lives. They have a lot of unstructured time, and there is no one living with them to enforce the rules – the way that you did when your child lived at home. Young adults often try to push boundaries and have new experiences as they grow up, and this lack of supervision could lead to underage drinking and other substance use issues.

But no matter why it happens, if your college student is facing serious underage drinking charges, it’s quite important for you to understand the potential legal defense options available to them. One misstep as a young person shouldn’t affect their entire future if it is possible to mitigate this risk by seeking legal guidance.