The College Drinking Culture
The misuse of alcohol is a cause or contributing factor in many academic, emotional, social, physical and legal problems for undergraduate students nationwide, and Loyola is no exception. While most students at Loyola use alcohol in moderation or not at all, a significant minority of students report drinking in ways that put them and others at greater risk for alcohol-related harms.
Loyola University Chicago is concerned about the negative consequences of high-risk drinking for the drinker, friends, roommates, classmates and community neighbors alike. "Choice. Control. Character." is Loyola's initiative to prevent or reduce harm from alcohol to the individual user and the community. It includes prevention education, interventions, and environmental strategies that support students in making informed, safe and responsible decisions about alcohol.
What You Can Do
The university is committed to making a difference in the lives of our students. However, it is understood that parents like you are the first line of defense against alcohol misuse and abuse. Although your student is now in college, you can continue to play a positive and influential role.
Have a conversation about alcohol with your son or daughter. Even if you know your student doesn't drink, it's important to have this conversation in the event he or she decides to experiment with alcohol or hang out with others who drink.
To assist you with opening a dialogue about alcohol with your son or daughter, Loyola University Chicago has made AlcoholEdu for Parents available to you. AlcoholEdu for Parents is a 20-minute online program designed to support your conversations about alcohol that will help shape the decisions your student must make in college about alcohol use. To access AlcoholEdu for Parents, see 'Resources' below.
In addition to those found in AlcoholEdu for Parents, the following suggestions for parents are based in part on advice from the Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse and Violence Prevention:
- Start a conversation about alcohol by sharing information about your own experiences with alcohol as a young adult. Why did you choose to drink, or not to drink? What role did alcohol play in your life then? Avoid glamorizing your own drinking; it may appear to give approval of high-risk consumption.
- Discuss perceptions versus realities about the college party scene. People are sometimes surprised to learn that college students don't drink as much as they thought. Most Loyola undergraduate students who drink have 4 or fewer drinks on a night out and most drink on two or fewer days of the week. Almost thirty percent of undergraduates at Loyola choose not to drink.*
- Express your expectations and values clearly and directly. Be specific. For example, if you don't want your student to consume alcohol as an underage adult, say so!
- If your student chooses to drink, focus on strategies for low-risk alcohol consumption. AlcoholEdu for Parents can help you to discuss specific strategies that you expect your student to follow, such as pacing drinks to one per hour.
- If your student plans not to drink, talk about how s/he will negotiate the party scene and handle real or perceived pressure to drink.
- Remind your student that, for people under the age of 21, drinking alcohol is against Illinois state law and university policy and can result in significant legal and financial consequences.
- Ask what "Choice. Control. Character." means to your son or daughter. Ask how his or her decisions about drinking affect these things.
- Set clear and realistic expectations regarding academic performance. Studies show that heavy drinking is associated with missed classes, poor performances on tests and lower grades. Knowing that their parents expect solid academic performance can deter students from heavy drinking.
- Encourage involvement in clubs, service/volunteer activities, or faith groups. They create opportunities for students to meet people who have similar interests that don't involve drinking.
- If there is a family history of alcohol or other drug problems, share this information with your student. Personal risk factors should be taken into consideration when making decisions about drinking.