From A Parent Handbook for Talking with College Students About Alcohol

Alcohol is the most misused drug in our society, although most people do not even consider alcohol to be a drug. It takes only a single episode of intoxication to experience life-changing consequences, accidents, arrests, etc. We are not so naïve that we think that parents talking with their sons and daughters about alcohol use will put an end to alcohol consumption in college students. However, you should do everything in your power to minimize odds of them being at risk.

Parental Reluctance to Talk with Student About Drinking

Myth Fact
My son or daughter is not interested in drinking. Over 90% of students try alcohol outside the home before graduating from high school.
My son or daughter has learned about the negative effects of alcohol in school. Although most students do learn about alcohol in their classes on health, we have found that many important issues never got covered.
At this point my son or daughter should know better. Unfortunately, the reality is that many students at this point in their lives are still uninformed about how powerful a drug alcohol can be.
My son or daughter won’t listen at this point. The results of the American College Health Survey revealed that parents were the number one source that students turned to for important information.

Topics You Should Be Sure to Address

In your talks there are several topics that you should be sure to address

  • First, you should talk about how drinking affects the body. Students need to know how drinking on a given occasion will affect them.

  • Second, you should make clear your own position concerning your student’s drinking, exactly what is okay and what is not.

  • Third, students drink for a variety of reasons. If you address this directly, then he or she will be better able to think through the choices she/he makes when confronted with “positive” motivations.

  • Fourth, you need to discuss reasons for NOT drinking and the many negative consequences that can result from drinking.

  • Finally, you need to make clear your willingness to help your son or daughter find constructive alternatives to drinking.

A Parent Handbook for Talking with College Students About Alcohol
By Rob Turrisi, Ph.D.
Prevention Research Center, The Pennsylvania State University
© 2010 CO Productions Ltd. All rights reserved.
Note: No part of this text can be used or reproduced without written permission from the author.