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RIA Seminar Series Opens with Topic of Parenting and High-risk Drinking in College

By Kathleen Weaver

Release Date: September 28, 2011

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Advances in parenting research related to college drinking. Hmm. We drank in college; it didn't hurt us (did it?). Do we really need more parenting tips by the time they're 18 and they're on their way out the door to college?

That's a conversation that needs to happen early on, says Rob Turrisi.

Turrisi will discuss "Advances in Parenting Research to Reduce High Risk Drinking and Problems in College Students" at 10 a.m. on Oct. 14 at the University at Buffalo's Research Institute on Addictions, 1021 Main St. at Goodrich on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. His presentation is free and open to the public.

He will focus on improving parent-teen communication and relationships in order to reduce the risks of drinking in college, risks he says that include drinking-related consequences and secondary consequences: other drug use, risky sex or getting into a car with someone else who's been drinking.

Turrisi is a research professor at Pennsylvania State University and director of the Prevention Research Center Alcohol and Skin Cancer Projects. His research focus includes behavioral decision-making, adolescent health issues and family relationships. He is also working to develop interventions to prevent substance abuse and cancer.

"The problem of college student drinking is everywhere," Turrisi said. "I have conducted research in Pennsylvania and New York, but the analyses I will present are on a national level. There is no evidence that things are different in New York or Pennsylvania."

College students drink, but drinking that leads to harm is called high-risk drinking, and many people consider any form of underage drinking high-risk, according to Turrisi. Another behavior considered risky is heavy episodic drinking -- five or more drinks in a two-hour period for males and four or more for females, he said.

"The data suggest that 40 percent to 50 percent of college students engage in frequent heavy episodic drinking and as many as 80 percent engage in some form of high-risk drinking during a given year," Turrisi said. "My research has included the full range of college students, but my early intervention trials have primarily focused on 18-20 year olds."

Turrisi will report on his research results, including a community-based zero-tolerance project in two college towns. "I wish we had all the answers," he said.

For more information, visit http://www.ria.buffalo.edu/events/index.html or call 887-2566.

The Research Institute on Addictions has been a leader in the study of addictions since 1970 and a research center of the University at Buffalo since 1999.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.