College is often the first time young adults are away from direct supervision. This freedom unsurprisingly can result in experimenting with one’s personal boundaries and establishment of values. Once you add in peers with the same feelings and newfound freedoms, the results can skew wildly toward either end of the responsible vs. irresponsible continuum. Indisputably, alcohol, nicotine, and drug use (or abuse) often falls into the irresponsible side of the spectrum. Though some may argue that any of the substances could be consumed in a responsible manner that is often not the case on college campuses. Another point that largely affects the illegality of alcohol possession and consumption on college campuses is the typical age range of students. Since the age for alcohol procurement and consumption is not generally reached until students have been in college for a couple of years, younger students often get access to alcohol from slightly older friends. I would argue that the abuse of alcohol by a 21 year old is not really that different from the abuse of alcohol by a 19 year old, but the law is not in agreement. Consequences vary regarding the use and abuse of alcohol (and/or cigarettes), with some schools maintaining strict policies upheld by adequate campus police and resource officers, and others simply allowing local police to address the matter whenever it may attract their attention.
I think that instilling strong values in teenagers is the best way to prevent the illegal use and possession of alcohol and cigarettes; at minimum, having a strong belief system regarding those things will likely aid in more responsible, informed consumption. In a similar vein, fostering self-confidence in teenagers can also serve to reduce the prevalence that results from peer pressure; teenagers, and adults for that matter, who are confident in themselves are less likely to base their actions off of others’ pressure.
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