The evening before Thanksgiving may be crunch time for holiday hosts. However, for the hordes of college students arriving home for the first long break since the semester began, that night is often seen as a chance to let loose with friends close to home.
The night before Thanksgiving goes by many names, including Blackout Wednesday, Drinksgiving, Wacky Wednesday, and even Whiskey Wednesday. MADD and many local law enforcement authorities warn that this day has become associated with binge drinking and additional dangerous behaviors that can put individuals at risk. In fact, MADD says that Blackout Wednesday is one of the most fatal days of the year, even when compared to New Year’s Eve or St. Patrick’s Day. Easy accessibility to liquor (as parents likely are stocking their supplies in advance of holiday entertaining), coupled with no school or work responsibilities, can give college students free reign to party. Furthermore, certain bars or entertainment establishments may offer promotions on the night before Thanksgiving to appeal to returning students or even others who want to let loose before the Thanksgiving weekend.
Thankfully, there are many ways to make the evening before Thanksgiving a bit safer.
• Keep alcohol out of reach. Parents may need to police their young adults by making alcoholic beverages less accessible to those who are not yet legally eligible to drink. Lock up liquor cabinets and do not try to be the “cool parents” by offering to buy or serve underage drinkers. There’s a very real legal risk should you serve an underage drinker and he or she goes on to get hurt or injure someone else.
• Choose designated drivers. Those who are 21 are free to drink, but reminders should be made to never get behind the wheel while intoxicated. Arrange for a rideshare vehicle or offer to pick up a loved one if need be.
• Offer to host friends. Your college student can be encouraged to invite people over for refreshments and entertainment that does not revolve around drinking alcohol. Hosting such a gathering means you can keep tabs on your own child.
• Avoid packed establishments. Encourage your child to skip bars or restaurants that are packed with other students to reduce the pressure to drink heavily.
• Go out with an accountability buddy. Ria Health suggests students look out for one another and embrace the buddy system. This way one student can stop the other if he or she is being irresponsible. Binge drinking can result in memory issues, unsafe sex, fights, sexual assault, and alcohol poisoning. People who binge drink often also may develop a dependence on alcohol.
• Keep things open and honest. Foster a strong relationship with your child so there is comfort in communicating. Those who are nervous about contacting parents if they become intoxicated may take risks rather than calling home.
Going out drinking has become the norm for many college students returning home prior to Thanksgiving. It’s important that safety be a priority.