Talking About Alcohol & Other Drugs with Your Wellesley College Student[1]

Starting a conversation with your Wellesley College student about alcohol and other drugs can be difficult. But they do care about what you think, and they are listening.  Here are some helpful tips to get you started.

1.    Think about your own values and behavior regarding alcohol, and what you want to communicate to your student, in advance.

2.    Ask open ended questions and use hypotheticals.  Some examples:

o  How will you decide whether or not to drink? 

o  What will you do at a party with only alcohol to drink? 

o  What will you do if your friends only want to drink and party? 

o  What will you do if you find someone who is drunk and needs help? 

o  How will you handle it if you are asked to baby-sit someone who is drunk?

3.      Communicate clearly your (realistic) expectations regarding their alcohol and other drug use and academic performance.  Most students don’t want to disappoint their parents, and it can be helpful for them to know exactly what is expected of them.  Don’t assume they already know.

4.      Make sure your student knows the law regarding alcohol and other drugs, and the College Policy on Alcohol and Other Drugs, including the consequences for either.

5.      Talk about the health implications of high-risk drinking, and ways to minimize the risks.  Students who engage in high-risk drinking may experience injuries, blackouts, getting in trouble, academic challenges, or death.  The risk of harm can be minimized through proactive steps to abstain, moderate, and respond promptly to health concerns.  

6.      Confront myths and exaggerations.  Most students believe that everyone at college drinks to excess.  In truth, many Wellesley College students do not drink at all, and most of those that do drink moderately. 

7.      Support your student in maintaining a safe environment for themselves and their peers.  If your student is affected by others’ drinking or drug use, encourage them to confront the source of the problem directly if it is safe to do so. If not, they can reach out to their RA or Residence Life Professional Staff.

8.      Encourage your student to seek help for themselves or intervene when someone else needs help.  The College’s Responsible Action/ Good Samaritan Policy encourages students to call Campus Police 24/7 at (781) 283-5555 (x5555) or their Residential Life Professional Staff on behalf of themselves or someone who is in need of immediate medical assistance.  Make sure your student knows the signs of alcohol or other drug overdose, which include confusion, stupor, vomiting, seizures, slow or irregular breathing, pale or blue skin tone, low body temperature, and unconsciousness.  If they are concerned about their own or someone else’s alcohol use, confidential help is available at the Stone Center Counseling Service, the Health Service, or the Office of Religious & Spiritual Life.  They can also reach out to their Residential Life Prof. Staff.

[1] Some content modified from Talking With Your College Student About Alcohol, Dean of Students Office, Illinois State University.


Minimizing Harm When Drinking Alcohol

·   Decide how much to drink before going out.

·   Drink less!  Abstaining is safest, but less alcohol means less risk.

·   Pace drinks to 1 drink per hour.

·   Know how much and what you’re your drinking.  Avoid pre-mixed punches.

·   Never leave a drink unattended.

·   Eat before, during and after drinking.

·   Alternate alcohol drinks with non-alcoholic drinks.

·   Stay with the same group of friends all night.

·   Plan how to get home in advance.

·   Avoid drinking games, shots, and anything that encourages drinking too much too fast.

·   Avoid alcohol if you are on medication.

More Information

What Parents Need to Know About College Drinking, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Excessive Alcohol Use and Risks to Women’s Health;  

Binge Drinking: A Serious, Under-Recognized Problem Among Women & Girls Centers for Disease Control & Prevention