TOLEDO, Ohio — College campuses are once again bustling with students and following the death of a BGSU student earlier this year, binge drinking is top of mind as students explore new-found freedom.
"I wouldn't say it's the biggest problem, but we don't want to act like it never happens," says University of Toledo junior Callie Palka.
UT junior Drew Hassen adds, "When you get your freedom for the first time some of them kinda go a little too crazy."
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports about one-third of college students admit to binge drinking. That's five or more drinks on one occasion for men and four or more for women.
"It's definitely across the board - across the country - a big issue," says Sarah O'Brien with Ark Behavioral Health.
She says a lot of pressure comes with being a college student and it's not just peer pressure to fit in.
"The anxieties, maybe some depression from being away from home," O'Brien said. "The new environment that you're faced with. A lot of individuals turn to these substances."
O'Brien says students may also turn to alcohol to let loose on the weekend after a long week of studying, not considering the consequences.
O'Brien fears the coronavirus pandemic could make the problem even worse with the stress of uncertainty.
"With individuals returning to college campuses, on-site learning, where maybe they haven't been in a year and a half, I think they want to let loose and have fun with their peers," she said. "It is going to be so much greater."
O'Brien says parents need to talk to their kids about the dangers of binge drinking and keep an open dialogue so they feel comfortable coming to them if something happens.
"It's so important to have these conversations. You talk because you could save someone's life," O'Brien said.
She also says to keep an eye out for changes in your child's personality. It could be a sign that something is wrong.
O'Brien recommends both parents and students learn about resources available on campus to help with substance abuse.