Info for Families

Family members posing with the Bearcat

The University of Cincinnati is committed to the safety and well-being of our students. We recognize that students may choose to drink alcohol and/or use drugs while in college. As a result, we provide education to students to encourage them to engage in healthy behaviors, including low-risk alcohol and drug use. 

With alcohol being the most misused drug in our society, and the most widely used drug by college-aged adults, parents, guardians and families should talk early and often about alcohol with their student(s). Research shows that over 90% of students try alcohol outside the home before graduating high school, and although they may have learned some of the negative effects of alcohol during high school, most of the important issues are never addressed. During this period in their lives, parents, guardians and families are their number one source for essential information and for guidance when it comes to important decisions involving alcohol. College is also an environment where students may be more likely to use substances such as marijuana, stimulants and other drugs. Just as parents, guardians and families have a significant impact on a student’s behaviors involving alcohol, families should also talk with their student(s) about drugs. According to the 2018 National College Health Assessment, in a 30 day period, 20.9% of undergraduate college students used marijuana and 7.5% of undergraduate college students reported using other drugs including cocaine, stimulants and sedatives that were not prescribed to them, opiates and others.

Conversations about alcohol and drugs can often be difficult, but research has shown that parents are a primary influence in students’ lives. Parents and families should have a discussion with their student about their expectations concerning alcohol and drugs, the effects of alcohol and illegal and non-prescribed drugs on the body, the reasons students may choose to drink or use drugs, reasons for not drinking or using drugs, and their willingness to help in unsafe situations that involve alcohol and drugs. Parents should also encourage their student to complete UC’s online alcohol education program, AlcoholEdu, and use the program as an opportunity to discuss alcohol and other drugs before starting classes in the fall.

Conversations with Your Student

  • How will you decide whether or not to drink or use drugs?
  • What will you do if you find yourself at a party where there is only alcohol to drink? What will you do if you find yourself at a party where there are drugs available?
  • What will you do if your roommate drinks and/or if your room becomes a center for this type of activity?
  • What will you do if you find a student passed out in the bathroom and/or how would you handle caring for someone who is very drunk or under the influence of a drug?
  • How will you balance the need to study and the opportunities to drink/use drugs?

College can potentially provide an environment where the pressure to drink and use drugs is high. When parents discuss alcohol and drug use with their students, the students are less likely to engage in high-risk behaviors involving alcohol and drugs.

Here are some tips to make the discussion easier and more successful:

  • Talk about the effects of drinking on the body so they understand how drinking and using drugs will impact them.
  • Make your position clear about your student’s drinking and drug use. Explain exactly what is and is not okay with you.
  • Explain that students drink and use drugs for many reasons. Addressing this will allow your students to think through the choices they will make when confronted with different situations.
  • Discuss reasons for not drinking and using drugs and the negative consequences that result from both.
  • Make clear your willingness to help your student find constructive alternatives to drinking and using drugs.

For more information about how to have the conversation about alcohol with your student, visit Parent and Family Programs

Warning Signs

  • Major changes in behavior
  • Less communication with you
  • Change in appearance or outlook
  • Significant drop in grades or class attendance 
  • Major weight loss
  • Increased requests for money or financial problems
  • Legal problems
  • Change in sleep patterns



Student Wellness Center


The Student Wellness Center is an educational resource for students, parents, and families about college student wellness. Their website includes information about campus resources, as well as education about various wellness topics, including alcohol and drugs.


An online resource for alcohol information including standard drink size, signs of a drinking problem, and a self-assessment. Published by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Resource for parent to have a conversation with their college student(s) about alcohol before the fall semester. Published by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Facts sheet for prescription drugs that includes information about the effects of prescription drug misuse, statistics on teen usage, and resources for support.

A guide for parents and families to have a conversation about drugs with their college student. The guide also includes warning signs to be aware of and information about commonly used drugs.