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Alcohol and Other Drug Information for Parents

dooley water

Talking about alcohol and other drugs with your student can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. While lecturing to your student is not effective, knowing some basic information can help ground the conversation and challenge misperceptions.

Statistics

Alcohol use affects all members of the university community, including students who choose to drink and students  who choose not to drink.  Survey data from students at Emory show that about one third of undergraduate students choose not to drink, one third of students drink in lower-risk ways, and about one-third of students report binge drinking (defined as 5+ drinks in one sitting) at least once in the two weeks prior to the survey.[1] There are negative health and safety outcomes associated with high risk drinking, including increased likelihood of alcohol abuse and dependence, death, injury, sexual assault; risky drinking also is associated with a series of academic problems, like missing classes, falling behind academically, receiving lower grades or dropping classes.[2]

The use of illicit drugs among college students has increased over the past several years.[3] Based on the results from Fall 2011 ACHA-NCHA II, nearly 12.9% of the national sample reported using illicit drugs within the past 12 months.1 Moreover, several studies have also shown the use of multiple substances puts students at greater risk of severe and unwanted consequences of their substance use.

Ways You Can Support/Prepare your student

The opinions of parents and family members continue to influence college students, even when the students are living away from home.  Ask your student what their experience with alcohol and/or other drugs has been. Ask what they expect in college, and let them know what your expectations are for them.  Some parents choose to talk with their students about their own experiences with alcohol or other drugs, while others don’t feel comfortable sharing this information.  

While lecturing to your student is not effective, knowing some basic facts to ground the conversation and help challenge misperceptions can be helpful.

Not every Emory student drinks and uses other drugs. Really! Challenge inaccurate expectancies. One out of five Emory students responding to a 2011 survey reported no use of alcohol in the last thirty days. For groups like first year students,  alcohol use is even lower, with over 50% reporting  they don’t drink in the past month.

Student perception of how many students use other drugs is generally higher than the actual use on-campus. For example, in 1 2011 survey 12% of respondents reported they used marijuana in the past month, yet respondents thought that 75% of students used marijuana during this timeframe.

While cannabis use happens on Emory’s campus, students and parents should not equate the recent policy and cultural shifts in many states with an assumption that marijuana use is an activity free of health and wellness risks.  Possession and use of cannabis remains illegal in the state of Georgia.  There is ample research that highlights risks to the developing brains of young adults and adolescents.[4]

Be honest with yourself and your student:  For the vast majority of students, their initial experiences with alcohol at Emory may be very positive and enjoyable. Encourage lower risk alcohol use, if your student engages in drinking. (If you drink, drink like Dooley) Also remind them that underage alcohol use and use of illegal substances violate state and local laws, as well as the Undergraduate Code of Conduct, and that there can be consequences.

You can also ask your student about Emory’s alcohol and other drug prevention efforts

The Division of Campus Life provides various alcohol and other drug educational programs for students. Asking your student about these initiatives may be a way to start the conversation. They may like these programs and they may not. The important part is that by talking about them, you’re creating opportunities for your student to talk with you about any questions or challenges they are facing. It’s also the chance to share your views and expectations with your student.

AlcoholEdu

AlcoholEdu is an online educational module that is required for all incoming first-year students. This course provides basic information on health risks associated with the use of illicit drugs and alcohol, as well as harm reduction strategies to decrease the risk of negative consequences if students choose to use substances. Encourage your student to engage with it early and be curious as to why they might find it tedious and/or beneath them – it might provide an opportunity to gauge how much you both really know.

Student Health 101 to All Students

Emory subscribes to the Student Health 101 e-newsletter and sends it to all students once per month. Nearly every issue includes articles about alcohol, tobacco and other drug use; how to help a friend; and how to reduce one’s risk for harm.

Late Night@Emory and other substance-free programs

Late Night @Emory programs organized through Student Programming Council, the Office of Student Leadership and Service, and the Dobbs University Center are substance-free and offered on weekend nights. The “Your Weekend at Emory” email digest is sent to every student each week with information about substance-free programs for the upcoming weekend.

Encourage your student towards affinity groups – Students sometimes seem to take social group development for granted, and then find themselves relying on alcohol fueled spaces to develop their networks. Whatever the activity that generated passion and joy in your student at home – video games or dance or reading or rock climbing – there is a group at Emory that will welcome them.

Conduct Process/Medical Amnesty Protocol

Emory expects all community members to follow state and local laws regarding alcohol and other drug use. However, if a student requires medical attention related to alcohol or other drugs, Emory does not want fear of getting in trouble to prevent anyone from calling for help. For this reason, Campus Life developed the Medical Amnesty protocol, which is a process that students can undergo instead of the Conduct process in cases where a student receives medical attention for an emergency related to alcohol or other drugs, such as alcohol poisoning. Medical Amnesty can apply to the student who received medical attention and the students and/or student organizations who called for help.

Students who commit alcohol or drug-related violations of the Undergraduate Code of Student Conduct and/or undergo the Medical Amnesty protocol for an alcohol or other drug-related medical emergency are connected to substance abuse prevention services, which include sessions with a Licensed Professional Counselor.

ReStart Collegiate Recovery Community

Emory’s ReStart Collegiate Recovery Program is a network of like-minded students who are working their recovery programs.  In addition to organizing substance-free activities, the ReStart Collegiate Recovery Community provides participants with affirmation and support as they attend meetings, social events, and conduct service work.


[1] American College Health Association. American College Health Association-National College Health Assessment II: Institutional Data Report Fall 2011 Emory University. Hanover, MD: American College Health Association; 2011.

[2] U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Institute

on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). (2013, July). College drinking fact sheet. Retrieved

from: http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/CollegeFactSheet/CollegeFactSheet.pdf.

[3] O’Grady, K.E., Arria, A.M., Firzelle, D.M.B., & Wish, E.D. (2008). Heavy drinking and polydrug use among college students. J Drug Issues, 38(2), 445-466.

[4] Volkow, N., Baker, R., Compton, W., & Weiss, S. (2014). Adverse Health Effects of Marijuana Use. The New England Journal of Medicine, 370(23), 2219-2227. Retrieved November 24, 2014, from http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMra1402309#t=article