Recognize there are social aspects of alcohol that may seem positive to your student. Networking, socializing, and bonding with friends are perceived to be positive aspects of consuming alcohol. Recognize that many students find it easier to follow the crowd and the majority of students do drink at some point in college. Recognize that telling your student to just say no might not work.
Relate as best you can and try to remember when you were 18. Remind your student that you do understand. If comfortable, share personal stories of positive ways to consume and negative ways to consume. Be clear in your purpose of sharing and explain that you had to make the same choices once too but be careful to avoid glamorizing your “glory days of college.” Instead, invite a discussion about you how want your student to enjoy college in a constructive way, without the negative effects of high risk alcohol use. Be a positive role model and if drinking, consume responsibly.
Responsibility is now in the hands of your student. Discuss the privileges and the consequences that come with that responsibility. Be specific about your expectations. Be honest about what you will do if an alcohol or drug violation occurs and then follow through. Your Students must learn to make choices on their own and deal with the consequences on their own.
Timing is Key
- After Orientation: Ask your student directly what he or she learned during the alcohol and drug presentation or ask what stood out during the two days on campus.
- Join Forces: Utilize the people in your life who also have a connection to your student: coaches, aunts/uncles, older siblings/cousins, friends.
- Mornings: Once your student heads to school, feel free to call early on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday morning. You will hear it in your student's voice if he or she had a late night and it can be a point of discussion.
- First Six Weeks of School: During this time, first year students are most at risk for a variety of things including alcohol abuse and sexual assault. Connect with your student often during this critical time of transition and keep the lines of communication open. Ask questions about what he or she is experiencing on campus. Ask how your student is getting involved in campus life.
Information is Critical
- Knowledge: Learn what you can about alcohol and other drug issues and share this knowledge with your student. Be factual and straightforward—correct misperceptions. Review the Ball State policies and Indiana laws and share these with your student.
- History: A family history of addiction is an important issue to discuss with your student. While the interplay between genetics and environment is not entirely clear, if there is a family history of any addiction, there is a higher risk for abusing alcohol.
- Mental Health: If your student struggles with mental health issues, alcohol abuse can worsen or create new symptoms. Be open about this and seek advice from your doctor.
- No Lecture: When talking with your student about anything, avoid scare tactics and lectures. Be open, supportive and focus the discussion around the reality.