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University Counseling Center

Guide to Alcohol and Other Drugs

What Can Parents Do?

Many times parents and young adults have a difficult time talking about alcohol and other drugs (AOD). To avoid negative outcomes, it is important for parents and students to be aware of the risks and possible consequences associated with AOD use. Research indicates that parents play a key role in the overall success of university students.

Here are a few ways to talk to your student and some topics that should be discussed.

What to do right now:

  • Communicate the facts and risks regarding AOD use.
  • Set clear and realistic expectations regarding academics, finances and AOD use.
  • Discuss a balance between social time and study time.
  • Be a good example/role model.
  • Understand how enabling behaviors can increase risk for problems.
  • Continue the dialog and carefully listen to your student.

Conversation Starters

  • Have you decided whether or not to drink, smoke or use other drugs at UR?
  • How can I help you with that decision?
  • Let’s talk about the pros, cons, and risks associated with your decisions.

If your student intends not to drink, ask:

  • What will you do if you find yourself at a party with only alcohol to drink?
  • What will you say if someone asks you why you are not drinking?
  • What will you do if someone offers you other drugs?
  • What will you do if you are asked to “baby-sit” someone who is very drunk? How will you know if he/she may have alcohol poisoning?

Once your student is at UR, ask questions such as:

  • What do you think of the classes you are taking?
  • How are you getting involved on campus?
  • Are you meeting many new people?
  • What is the social scene like, what do you do for fun?
  • What is different from what you expected?
  • What challenges have you faced?

KEEP ASKING QUESTIONS!

How Students are Enabled to Make High Risk Choices

Enabling is any response people make to someone’s high risk choices that allows them to keep making those choices without much sense of risk. There are a variety of ways that students are enabled to use alcohol and other drugs, many are very discreet. When enabling occurs, individuals do not experience as many of the negative consequences of their use.

Enabling behaviors include:

  • Denying there is a problem
  • Bailing out
  • Covering up
  • Making excuses
  • Offsetting consequences
  • Taking over responsibility
  • Encouraging high-risk use

Parents, faculty/staff, and peers can all play a role in enabling student’s high-risk choices without being conscious of the impact of their actions. Therefore, we all have the responsibility and challenge to create an environment where low-risk choices are the norm.


Drinking in College

When talking to your son or daughter about their choices with regard to alcohol, you may want to discuss the differences between low-risk and high-risk drinking and abstaining.

Low risk drinking is:

  • Thinking about whether you will drink, what you will drink before the party
  • Being 21 or older
  • Eating a meal before drinking
  • Abstaining is the safest choice
  • Drinking no more that one drink per hour; maximum 1 for women, 2 for men
  • Always knowing what you are drinking
  • Alternating alcohol-free drinks throughout the evening
  • Knowing how you will get home safely before you go out

High risk drinking is:

  • Chugging, drinking games, shots (drinking anything out of a punch bowl, trough, hose, or funnel)
  • Drinking to get drunk (intoxicated)
  • Driving after drinking or riding with someone under the influence
  • Drinking too much too fast
  • Going to parties where people drink too much
  • Not knowing what is in your glass or leaving it unattended
  • Alternating alcohol-free drinks throughout the evening
  • Mixing alcohol with medications or illegal drugs