Talking to Your College-Aged Child About Alcohol

Last Updated on April 14, 2021

College drinking has become an activity many students see as inseparable from their higher education experience. 

As a parent, you can significantly impact your children’s decisions about alcohol, even into their college years. While graduation is certainly a time to celebrate, talking with your high school graduates1 about the dangers of alcohol could prevent problems later. 

We’ve compiled some tips on talking to college-aged students about alcohol abuse before college—or even graduation celebrations—begin. 

8 Tips on How to Talk to Your College Student About Alcohol

man in graduation gown hugging his mother
Photo by Ronny Sison on Unsplash

Here are eight tips for having a conversation with your college-aged child about alcohol:

  1. Wait until you’re both free of commitments and able to have a calm, relaxed discussion. 
  2. Communicate directly. Make sure you’re not consumed with other tasks—like folding laundry, texting, or watching television.
  3. Clearly state your expectations, and expand the conversation to include sexual activity and personal safety when it comes to alcohol. 
  4. Make sure your intention for honest, open communication is apparent. 
  5. Listen to your college student without defensiveness or judgment. 
  6. Encourage your child to learn about their chosen university’s alcohol policy and the consequences of violating it. These consequences could include dismissal from on-campus housing, expulsion, suspension, university-wide disciplinary probation, and housing probation.
  7. Remember that transitioning from high school to college may pose challenges for your child. Encourage them to talk to you if you suspect deeper issues are at play. 
  8. Stress the significance of knowing when to get help and the importance of looking out for others. 

How to Keep the Conversation Going

Questions to ask your adult child to keep the conversation going2 when he or she is away at college include:

  • Are you feeling overwhelmed?
  • How do you like your classes?
  • How are you spending your free time and what do you do for fun? 
  • How do you like your roommate?
  • Are you enjoying living off-campus or in the residence halls?
  • Can you tell me about the friends you have made? 

What Else Can You Do as a Parent?

Continuing parental influence is an often-overlooked factor in preventing problematic college drinking. How else can you help deter the consequences of college drinking for your child?

  • Provide ongoing support to your student during the school year—especially during the first six weeks of the fall semester, when they may be especially vulnerable to the availability of alcohol.
  • Make sure you understand the school’s policies for notifying parents in the event of a problem.
  • Ensure your child knows signs of alcohol poisoning and how to get help—for themselves or a friend.
  • Learn about the school’s alcohol prevention efforts. Some colleges may ensure students participate in alcohol-education programs.

Contact Ria Health if You’re Concerned About Your College Student’s Alcohol Consumption

If you are concerned about your student with regards to their alcohol consumption, help is available. Online programs like Ria Health provide regular coaching sessions from the convenience of a mobile app.

We take a modern approach to cutting back on alcohol—meaning we allow your college-aged child to either set a goal to stop drinking completely, or reduce their alcohol intake. No office visits are required! Our services are entirely virtual, and we use medication-assisted treatment to reduce cravings for alcohol when necessary.

Reach out to our team online today to get started. You can also schedule a free consultation appointment with a Ria Health representative to learn more about how our telehealth program helps individuals reduce or stop drinking. 


Written By:
The Ria Health Team
Our experienced team is committed to transforming alcohol addiction treatment.
Reviewed By:
Content Writer/Editor
Writer specializing in targeted, informative content. Dedicated to making the abstract accessible.

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