Parents:  What do I do if I am concerned about my student’s alcohol or drug use?

Often, students perceive that other students are drinking much more than they actually are.  When asked “What do you think the percentage of BSU students who say they have not consumer alcohol in the last 30 days is?” students often answer 2%” and  they are surprised  to learn that 30% of BSU say that didn’t drink in the last 30 days and 15% say they have never drank alcohol?  Only .6% of students said they drank daily. Students believed that 5% of students never use marijuana when in actuality 63% of students reported never using marijuana.  We like to share this information to lessen the potential pressure students may feel to drink alcohol because they believe “everyone is doing it”.  Also Ball State University has free, alternative, non-drinking activities such as “Late Night”  on Saturday nights which offers different events such as bowling, carnivals, games and films. 

However some student want to experiment with drugs as college is a time for self-exploration and potential peer influence.  Your college student may begin to question their values and beliefs and try out  different lifestyles, including alcohol and drug use.  How do you as a parent when to be concerned about seeing changes in your student’s mood, personality and interactions with others?   Here are some of the common signs that you might be aware of in your student:

  • Withdrawal from their usual activities
  • Mood swings
  • Sudden outbursts of anger
  • Financial problems
  • Decline in their academic performance
  • Missing classes
  • Not caring about things they usually care about
  • Worsening personal hygiene
  • Drowsiness
  • Low motivation
  • Paranoia
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Impaired memory
  • Increased hunger

Of course, these can also be symptoms of other problems such as depression or anxiety and sometimes students who are using alcohol or drugs are doing so to self-medicate other problems.   You can consult with the Ball State University Counseling Center staff if you have concerns about your student.  Contact us at (765) 285-1736, 

How do I approach my student about my concern about their alcohol or drug use?

  1. Focus on their behavior:list a specific problems that have occurred because of your student's drinking or drug use such as “I have noticed you aren’t going to classes or doing things you used to do”.
  2. Choose a private location where you can talk. Express your care and concern for your student.
  3. Talk in calm voice without judgment or criticism.Ask them if they are feeling depressed, anxious and/or suicidal. Ask them to share the reasons they are using drugs and/or alcohol
  4. Talk when they are sober.
  5. Distinguish between behavior when they are sober versus high/drunk.Eg).You are usually so fun to be around but when you drink you are angry.”
  6. Be sure to distinguish between the person and the behavior. "I think you're a wonderful person, but the more marijuana you smoke, the less you seem to care about anything."
  • Encourage your student to consult with a professional to talk about their drug or alcohol problem .Offer to help them to find resources for treatment.
  • Talk to people you trust so you have support.

The Counseling Center offers individual and group counseling for treatment of alcohol and drugs.  We also offer prevention outreach programs throughout the school year.  Call the BSU Counseling Center for more information (765) 285-1736