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My college age daughter is drinking and smoking pot - big issue?

My 18 year old daughter has recovered from an eating disorder 5 years ago, is doing great in school, accepted to college to be a nurse.

Two years ago she got very very drunk at a friend's house, hasn't happened again until tonight. I think she is also smoking pot over there.  

I know kids are going to experiment, but I also want to nip it in the bud. Does anyone have advice? She is supposed to go on spring break w/ some friends next week. I want to tell her no way, and that I'm having second thoughts about going to college. She was out of her mind drunk and if this happens again would be vulnerable and could get hurt.
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Avatar universal
Hey! I am 20 and I feel like I'm very similar to your daughter, but a few years down the line. I am three years in remission for anorexia and currently attending a large state university for pre-medicine and neuroscience. I personally drink and I don't think that it has gotten in the way or put me at risk. As long as you establish safety rules for drinking, I don't think mild drinking in college will hinder her chances at becoming a nurse in the future. I understand your concerns about sexual assault, but let me tell you... sexual assault happens to women even when they're not drunk. I was raped over the summer when I was completely sober. You can't protect her from everything, but you can support her and make her feel as though she can come to you if things like this do happen. I don't know what I would do if I didn't trust my mom enough to talk to her about what happened to me. I needed that love. Please just support her with the knowledge that bad things happen to good people, and you can only give her a safe place to run to when the world gets to be too much. You gotta let her be her own adult.

On a less depressing note, I am graduating in the top of my class this year and have been accepted into three medical schools. I drank heavily my freshman year. Drinking doesn't mean you're a bad person or that you're doomed to fail in school.
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Oh my goodness, thank you for this and congratulations. I hope you are very proud of getting through what you have been through. You will be a very compassionate dr.
Avatar universal
Colleges often have mental health programs where students can go for support groups, counseling, etc.

Colleges realize this age is often when mental health issues begin, so they often have a program, a place where students can go.

Same for addiction disorders, they'll have support for that.

Best thing parents can do is remain open and supportive. Be someone they can talk to safely without judgement. You may voice your concerns and worries.

Also, she'll be surrounded by other students. They'll be the ones who want to contact you if there is a need. Make yourself findable. How will a student search to find "daughter's mother" if they need to? Social media? (I don't know.)

You may be able to casually find out from her who her friends are, and use them to watch over her.

Best of luck!
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Thank you so much!
973741 tn?1342342773
Hi.  I can understand concern for our kids especially when they have been through a mental health crisis such as an eating disorder.  I'm glad she's recovered from that but it does always make you a bit more concerned for other 'issues' coming out.  I agree with paxiled, discussions with her about the worries of the drinking and getting high and what consequences could result seems important.  I agree too without panicing and going overboard.  Girls have added risks of sexual assault by being inebriated.  That's scary.  

Letting our kids go off to college is a bit terrifying for parents.  And IF our child has head serious mental health issues in the past like an eating disorder?  Wow, double that fear.  That's normal.  And when we see they aren't always making good choices, it's a concern. However, I think she probably as an adult can choose her own path and you aren't 'letting' her anymore. So, your best bet is to discuss how to make good choices.  Especially given an atmosphere where drinking and pot will be around 'a lot'.  If you don't feel she is capable of good choices, you can offer community college. If you are paying the bills, you have more leverage. Or commuting to a local university is also an option.  I understand your fear.  Talk to her.  Like she's an adult and not just your child so she can understand where you are coming from. Hang in there.
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I will add one thing to the above -- if your daughter is a good student, and you don't say where she is likely to go to college, community college will be like a continuation of high school for her and leave here bored with plenty of time on her hands and perhaps fewer options for life.  I know there's a lot of talk these days about college affordability leading to more talk about community college and local colleges, but if a student has the ability to get into a very high level school and can handle that, it is a world away from those types of schools.  You learn some from professors, but you learn a lot more from fellow students, and a lot more can be offered and taught when everyone pretty much understands what's being assigned.  That isn't true at lower level colleges.  This is a harsh statement, but college is a meritocracy, and options are truly much greater the higher level of competitiveness of the school.  It just is.  It is just as bad to take a very good student and put them in an environment that is too slow for them as it is to put someone in an environment that is too fast for them.  It's not an easy decision to make, because harder schools are also more difficult places to succeed at and relax in and they cost a lot more.  That wasn't always true, but for political reasons it is now as states no longer fund the better state schools the way they used to making tuition expensive. I only write this to say that it may not be a solution to send someone to a community college or local college if that doesn't offer what the student wants and can handle.  Schools aren't equal.  Peace.
Aw you guys are so awesome, what great responses. My daughter is super remorseful (not an act), and is writing a contract about what she knows needs to happen moving forward. One of these things will be checking in with a therapist. Thank you for understanding that we have been to hell and back, so every teenage mistake is just amplified into, is this the other shoe dropping?! I was a goody goody, I did not drink or smoke, so I'm never sure what "normal" teenage craziness vs problem is. Thank you! Oh as for college, the plan is to go to a state college, she is doing classes at the community college right now for high school. Thanks again!
RoyalBee, you are doing great.  I'm dealing with a lot of mental health challenges with my own teenager.  Every day is worrisome. Hoping for good days, fearing for bad days.  It can literally be life and death for some of these kids. I'm glad she signed the contract.  I'm glad she is on board with your thoughts.  some kids are more at risk than others and our kids are going to be.  It sounds like she is bright and has a lot of support.  
Well, if you ever do need to know "normal" teenage craziness, I was a teenager during the Sixties and 70's, and either did or knew people who did pretty much everything there is to do.  And just so you know, again, most of us who were at the top of the class did these things.  Never was much into overusing alcohol, though -- that seemed a drug that made people violent and loud and while I did drink a little I wasn't a big user of that one.  Mom was right about alcohol, it can be dangerous for women.  There's also a thing now that didn't exist then, which is binge drinking where people regularly drink to the point of blackout.  Can't understand that one.  So do keep any eye out, but also know that if kids don't experiment they don't learn.  Just to say, if you do need to know if something is weird, I probably either did it or knew someone who did it, and I'm sure there are others here who did as well.  
Avatar universal
So you're going to ruin her future by denying her college, a decision that isn't even really yours, because she got drunk and might be smoking pot?  Hate to tell you this, but sixty years olds are doing this too.  You can't protect her from life.  You can only try to teach her by example and legitimate information to do what's best for her.  I also hate to tell you this, but all the best students when I was in school were doing these things and a lot more.  I don't really know how one would stop it.  Even if you could prevent her from going to college, you would probably just accelerate these kinds of things -- college may be fun but it also keeps one pretty busy.  I wouldn't be happy if my daughter were out of her mind drunk either, and it is something to talk to her about, as alcohol overuse leads to some pretty bad outcomes.  It's a teaching moment, but only if you don't panic and go overboard and find a way to talk to someone that age that doesn't sound like something to tune out, and that's not easy.  I'd worry a lot less about pot, frankly, than alcohol overuse just on safety grounds and doing crazy things.  But you know, young people are going to have fun one way or the other and again, the best we can do is share our mistakes with them and give them true info and hope for the best and if things do get out of hand be there to take action then.  Now, spring break in a pandemic?  That's just nuts.  Nobody should be doing that right now, so on that one, I'm with you all the way.  Peace.
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Thank you so much for your input!
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