Healthy Decisions: Alcohol And Other Drugs
Want to help your student thrive at UWM? Talk with them about alcohol and other drug use, both before they arrive on campus and throughout their time in school. While many UWM students choose to drink moderately or not at all, and most do not use other substances, substance use has the potential to cause a variety of interpersonal, academic, legal, and health concerns that may derail a student’s successful college experience.
Create shared expectations
Parents and other family members have a powerful influence on the substance-related behaviors of their college students. Work with your student to create shared expectations for their college experience. Encourage your student to explore the relationship between their goals and values and substance use.
Discuss a plan
Ask your student how they intend to navigate situations related to the use of alcohol and other drugs within the college environment. Emphasize that having a plan is essential. Check in with them often to discuss what they have experienced academically, legally, and socially as a result of their decisions, and help them to develop new strategies, as needed.
Promote making connections
Encourage your student to seek opportunities to connect with other UWM students in substance-free environments, through involvement in student groups, recreational activities and on-campus events, and by exploring all that Milwaukee has to offer.
Reinforce positive coping techniques
Some students turn to substance use as a means of coping with stress and difficult emotions or as a ‘quick fix’ to deal with academic demands or other pressures . Remind your students that alcohol and other drug useis not an effective way of coping and that continued misuse of any substance is dangerous and unhealthy. Help them connect with appropriate academic or counseling resources to develop healthier, safer and more sustainable coping strategies for long-term success.
Reinforce safe medication practices
A common misperception about prescription drug misuse is that, because they are prescribed by a doctor, misuse is safe and legal. In fact, sharing or taking medication without a prescription is illegal and some prescription medications (opioid pain medications, stimulants and sedatives) are just as dangerous as illegal drugs because continued misuse can lead to health problems, physical dependency and addiction. Discuss with your student the importance of using prescription medications only as prescribed by one’s doctor, how to securely store medications, and how to properly dispose of unneeded medications. A prescription drug drop box is conveniently located at the UWM Police Department.*
Express your observations and concerns
If your student’s use of alcohol or other drugs is detrimentally impacting their health, academic performance, relationships, or general transition to college – or if you are otherwise worried about their substance use, do not ignore it. Discuss your concerns in a caring, non-judgmental manner and offer to help them connect with available resources.
Resources for Students and Families
e-Check Up to Go: Alcohol is a 25-minute, self-guided, online, anonymous and evidence-based prevention program. Based upon their survey answers, students receive feedback in an easy-to-read format on how their drinking compares to that of others; personal and family risk factors; and the impact on academics, relationships, health and budget. Tips for lowering risk are offered. https://www.e-CHUG.uwm.edu
Make Good Decisions
Conceptualized by UWM students for UWM students, the Make Good Decisions website provides students with information and tips that they can use to foster a community where students look out for one another and act responsibly to prevent alcohol and other drug-related problems for themselves and their peers. www4.uwm.edu/makegooddecisions/
Alcohol-Wise For Parents
Required of incoming students at UWM, Alcohol-Wise is an online education course designed to promote and enable healthy and informed decision-making around alcohol use. Family members are encouraged to participate in the parent version of the course, using the information to initiate and/or continue the conversation with their students throughout their college career.