Published: Oct. 7, 2019

two women talking

Family members are crucial partners in the academic success of their student. It’s important to have an open and ongoing dialogue with students about important issues, especially when your student may be exposed to situations involving alcohol and drugs. The use of alcohol and drugs can affect a student's social and emotional well-being. During their time at college, students may choose to experiment with alcohol and drugs for a variety of reasons or they may be affected by someone else’s decision to experiment. 

Approaching the topic of substance use and having a non-judgmental conversation with your student can help when it comes to the choices they make and knowing when to seek help for themselves or others. Here are some communication tips to consider:

  • Listen – Allow your student to share without interrupting or judging.  The more your student feels heard, the more likely you are to have ongoing and open communication about this and other difficult topics. Try asking open-ended questions to get your student talking and truly understand their perspective.
  •  Explore why students may use substances - Students may choose to experiment with drugs and alcohol for a variety of reasons – peer pressure, to socialize, to relax, boredom, etc. Consider these reasons when anticipating your conversation and think of alternative activities to suggest for your student. Recognizing that there are “positive” reasons students may choose to use substances can help you put those into perspective.
  • Anticipate questions – If you’re asking your student questions about alcohol and drug use, there’s a good chance they will ask you about your experiences with alcohol and drugs. Anticipate these questions, and consider sharing your own experiences and what you learned from them.
  • Emphasize common goals – If your student becomes defensive or feels like they’re getting a lecture, remind them that you want to help them be prepared for situations they may encounter. Focus the conversation on the common goals you both share around this topic - you both want your student to be healthy, safe and successful at CU.

As a university, we strive to provide a healthy learning and living environment, and are committed to the health and wellness of our students. We offer programming and ongoing messaging to bring awareness to how alcohol and drug use affects students' health and well-being during their time on campus and beyond.

Additionally, we have a variety of resources to support both students and families: