Talking to Others About Their Alcohol Use

Parents talking to students

While most students drink responsibly, high-risk drinking is an alarming problem on college campuses. Here are some resources with information and talking points for starting a family discussion about college drinking:

 Other ideas for parents to consider

  • Encourage students to always “stay in control;” remind them control disappears when drinking large amounts or losing track of how much has been consumed
  • Acknowledge your students’ right/responsibility to make decisions for themselves now they’re at college, and also point out the consequences associated with those decisions (family, university, financial, legal)
  • Advise your student if there’s a family history of substance abuse and, if so, the associated risk for their developing substance-related problems down the road
  • Be selective about sharing your own past substance use. The “wild and crazy” stories tend to glamorize drinking and may end up encouraging students to continue the “family tradition” of partying hard
  • If you have a concern, let them know explicitly and directly, “I am concerned about your alcohol or marijuana use.” You can also encourage your student to consult a health professional and/or Student Support and Advocacy Center staff to discuss further.

Students talking with peers

Students may be worried about how much or how often their roommate, best friend or boyfriend/girlfriend drinks or smokes. Expressing concern is quite different from accusing them of being an alcoholic or an addict. When concerned about a friend, students can obtain confidential support and guidance from Student Support and Advocacy Center staff. Drop by or send an email to make an appointment.

Finally, here are some other suggestions:

  • Attend a local Al-Anon meeting to get support from others who also have loved struggling with substances.