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Alcohol Rehab As a Prerequisite to College?

I hope the news articles on the recent death of 19-year-old Jason Wren, a student at the University of Kansas who died after a night of binge drinking, alerted parents to the discrepancies in the application of the law regarding students’ privacy and the practice of informing parents, or not, when students have a problem with drug or alcohol addiction or abuse.

According to Jason’s father, he knew his son had an alcohol problem before he sent him off to university and, had he known it was still a problem – he did send him to a ‘dry’ school so he did have reason to believe it would not be a problem – he would have brought him home where he could keep an eye on him.

Instead, he didn’t find out about the problems Jason was having until attending his son’s memorial service at the school, where he was allowed to see his son’s records for the first time. His son was on probation in his residence hall for alcohol violations, hadn’t shown up for the personal counseling session he was supposed to get because of it, and hadn’t done the required alcohol abuse course.

The school provost – a high ranking official, this one responsible for student success (!) - had the nerve to say that “there is no national evidence that parental notification makes a difference.”

I beieve that’s the lamest, most irresponsible, insensitive excuse I’ve ever heard. Someone’s son just died and she’s being a politician – covering her ass.

The law states that parents should be informed in an emergency. Until 2007, ‘emergency’ was defined as an ‘extreme situation’. After a student at Virginia Tech shot and killed himself and 32 others in April of that year, the definiton changed to a ‘significant threat to the health or safety of the student or other individuals.’

Well – that’s obviously open to interpretation. Ask 10 people on the street what they would consider a ‘significant threat to the health or safety of the student or other individuals’ and you’ll get 10 different answers. And it’s been proven that even the so-experts – psychiatrists – can’t predict whether someone’s dangerous or not. How is some administrator at a school, or a school council, going to do it?

What should you do? Jason’s father sent him to a ‘dry’ school; obviously, that wasn’t enough.

Where college-aged sons  and daughters with alcohol problems should go is to alcohol rehab. Not university. And if they’re taking drugs, do the same. Get them into an addiction treatment center - a long-term residential treatment program that will take however many months are needed to get down to the bottom of the problem so your kid CAN and WILL say no when the time comes.