Families play an important role in shaping student understanding of and expectations around substance use in college. Taking time to discuss the risks and consequences associated with alcohol, nicotine, cannabis and other drugs prior to students coming to campus is a critical step in creating an environment where students can live, learn and play safely. We know that many Mizzou students choose not to use alcohol, cannabis, nicotine or other drugs, however, they may find themselves in risky situations involving these substances. When students know they can have open conversations with parents and family, it can help them navigate challenges situations more effectively.
Not sure where to begin? Here are some tips for a productive, meaningful, conversation with your student before they arrive at Mizzou.
- Reference current news reports. Sometimes it is hard to broach the subject of alcohol or drug misuse. You can use current news reports to open the conversation. The media is full of relevant articles related to substance misuse that your student has probably already heard about. Present this information from a place of awareness rather than fear.
- Discuss consequences. Acknowledge the desire for your student to enjoy college, make friends, grow as a person, and live a successful life. Share with your student that using alcohol, nicotine, cannabis or other drugs could impact their goals and dreams for the future. There is long standing evidence associating heavy episodic drinking with lower GPA and decreased likelihood of engaging with faculty (Porter & Prior, 2007 & Pascarella, et al., 2007).
- Share with your student that alcohol, nicotine, cannabis and other drug misuse can escalate. Discuss your expectations as studies suggest that parents and legal guardians have a significant impact on their student’ alcohol and other drug behaviors in college. Furthermore, review the signs of alcohol poisoning and overdose and how to seek help for themselves, a friend, or roommate.
- Reach out to other parents and professionals. Other individuals in your life can help build dialogue about substance misuse and assist in encouraging your student to thrive while at Mizzou. You can also check out the Student Health & Well-Being website to learn more about resources on campus that support your student.