College freshmen are exactly that - fresh, walking into a brand new world of opportunities and temptations, and without the guidance or close watch from their parents.

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It's the time of year when many young adults leave home for the first time to start their multiyear journey through college, but experts say there's still time for parents to have a serious talk with their kids about the stressors and social pressures that await them on campus.

One of those pressures involves consuming alcohol. The legal age to do so in the U.S. is 21, but college freshmen are drinking anyway, and sometimes too much, too fast.

"There's a whole continuum of problems from episodes of drinking alcohol, particularly binge drinking," said Dr. Steven Marcus, medical director of the New Jersey Poison Information & Education System. "You do read every year, somewhere in the country, somebody dies from drinking too much at a college party."

Marcus noted alcohol is a depressant and can slow a person's breathing, heart rate and decrease blood pressure.

"When this happens, people lose consciousness and die," Marcus said. "Alcohol-poisoned individuals also increase their risk of dying by choking on their own vomit."

"Study drugs," meanwhile, have increasingly become a popular option for students looking to stay alert and on top of their schoolwork. By obtaining them legally or illegally, students are misusing and abusing prescription medications that would normally be prescribed for conditions such as attention deficit disorder.

"Using those medicines as study aides has never been shown to really help, and in most cases have shown to lead to far more worse things," Marcus said.

Even if we send a young adult off to college with the best ideals and values, Marcus said, there are tremendous pressures once one steps on a college campus. His message to parents - it's not too late to give a heads-up and advice to your kids heading to college for the first time.

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