Now that students have started their college academic year either on campus or online, it’s the ideal time for parents to talk with their kids about the dangers and consequences of underage drinking. Although it might seem counterintuitive, the Michigan Liquor Control Commission says parents have the most influence when it comes to whether or not their student will drink alcohol.

Underage drinking and using fake IDs are always risky but especially so now in the midst of pandemic, the commission noted. Social gatherings, particularly those that include alcohol, are believed to be “super spreader” events for the virus. As most adults know, it only takes a few drinks for everyone’s inhibitions to relax and, during a pandemic, that likely includes adherence to social distancing and mask wearing.

Other types of substance abuse seem to be in the spotlight more often these days, but the fact is that alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among youth in the United States. The commission notes those aged 12-20 drink 11 percent of all alcohol consumed. Additionally, underage drinkers consume more drinks per drinking occasion than adult drinkers.

Fortunately, state experts have found that youth alcohol use had trended down since the late 1990s but still remains above 25 percent.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the first six weeks of freshman year are a vulnerable time for harmful and underage college drinking and for alcohol-related consequences because of student expectations and social pressures at the start of the academic year and that problem can only intensify due to other stressors, like a pandemic.

The commission says research shows that students who abstain from drinking often do so because their parents discussed alcohol use and its adverse consequences with them.

In the fight to help youth make good choices, businesses need to continue doing their part to keep alcohol out of the hands of minors too.

As young adults navigate these new experiences, let’s do all we can to help them get off to a great and safe start.