Healthy Decisions: Alcohol & Other Drugs

Healthy Decisions: Alcohol & 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 students to create shared expectations for their college experience. Encourage your student to explore the relationship between their values and substance use.

Discuss a plan
Ask your students about 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 connections to campus
Encourage your students to seek opportunities to connect with other UWM students in substance-free environments, through involvement in student groups, recreational activities, and on-campus programs.

Reinforce positive coping techniques
Some students turn to substance use as a means of coping with stress or other emotional difficulties. Remind your students that alcohol and other drugs are not an effective way of coping with issues that may be causing them worry or distress. Help them connect with appropriate academic or counseling resources to develop healthier and more sustainable coping strategies.

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.
Brief Alcohol and other drug Screening & Intervention for College Students (BASICS) provides students an evidence-based opportunity to explore their drinking or other drug use in a confidential, non-judgmental and positive environment with fellow students and a trained health educator. Participants have the opportunity to:

  • Become more aware of the patterns and context of their use
  • Reflect on personal outcomes of use and the relationship with academic performance, health, relationships, goals and values
  • Discuss personalized feedback on individual and family risk factors
  • Explore options for reducing harm
  • Decide what to do next

For more information: visit or contact 414-229-3712 or

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.

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.