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Parent Must-Knows and Can-Dos

Parents are encouraged to take an active role in working with the university to prevent alcohol misuse and abuse. The NIAAA (National Advisory Council on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism) describes three distinct stages in which you, as a parent, contribute in critical ways to the decision-making involving your college-bound daughter or son:

As a parent you are a primary influence in your child's life, including help in choosing the right college so that they get the best education possible. In choosing OU, you and your child have already made a smart decision. It is an even smarter one when you consider OU's comprehensive approach to alcohol awareness, which is an important topic to understand and discuss for both students and parents. Your transition into a Sooner Parent should also include completion of the very informative and helpful OU Parents 101 courses as well as thorough knowledge of the many resources located on the official OU Sooner Parents website, which highlight dates, events, campus services and tips! As a Sooner Parent, you will receive information on current student issues and will be actively involved on campus.   

You then need to ensure that when they go off to college they live in a safe environment. Here is where OU and you the parent work together. While OU implements a comprehensive approach to alcohol awareness that helps students make more informed, healthy decisions related to alcohol, you can inquire about campus alcohol policies, call your children frequently, and ask about roommates and living arrangements. You should also discuss with them the penalties for underage drinking as well as how alcohol use can lead to sexual assault, violence, and academic trouble. All first-year students are required to complete both an online and in-person* alcohol awareness session designed to inform them of university alcohol policy, applied scenarios that students may encounter, and alcohol statistics. As a parent, you should also educate yourself on general college drinking culture, a good source for which is found on NIAAA's College Drinking Prevention website.  

* - All in-person alcohol & other drug education sessions are taking place virtually via Zoom due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Here are some things to keep in mind when talking to your child about drugs and alcohol:

  • Express concern about specific behaviors
  • Encourage your students autonomy and ability to make decisions
  • Let them know that you are there to support them
  • Encourage your child to seek campus options such as OU Counseling Center or local options such as Alcoholics Anonymous
  • There are alcohol-free events on campus that students can learn about on the Student Affairs website.

Here are high-risk patterns to look for:

  • Drinking frequently and in higher quantity than most students
  • Tolerance (taking more and more to feel the buzz)
  • Began drinking in high school on a regular basis (coming to college with an established pattern)
  • Family history of drinking problems
  • Trouble stopping once one starts
  • See consequences as a policy problem not a drinking problem
  • Peer group supports frequent drinking and some may drink more
  • See college as the time to be alcoholic ("I'll quit or slow down after graduation")

Another source of information and support for you the parent is The Jill Campaign. Click the following link for more information: The Jill Campaign

By educating yourself on signs of possible acohol abuse, coupled with the above discussions, you will know how best to approach suspected or known problems. What are high-risk alcohol patterns? High risk drinking can be defined in two ways: (1) engaging in the behaviors leading to high levels of intoxication which can cause harm to self and others and (2) high-risk patterns including the amount and frequency alcohol is consumed, a prediposition for tolerance, the age at which the student first starting drinking, and having a social support system for the way they drink. Some of these students may have a family history of alcoholism.  

What are some high-risk drinking/warning signs?

  • Drinking without a plan of how you will get home and with whom
  • Drinking to get drunk
  • Driving after drinking or riding with someone under the influence
  • Drinking too much too fast
  • Going to parties where people drink too much
  • Not knowing what is in your glass or leaving it unattended
  • Mixing alcohol with medications or illegal drugs
  • Chugging, drinking games, shots

If you believe your child is having a problem with alcohol, inlcuding alcohol-related consequences such as assault, depression or academic problems, then you are recommended to find appropriate campus help as soon as possible, especially for the first-year student who is still in the critical 6 week transitional stage from high school to college. There are both online and in-person resources at your and the student's disposal such as the Behavior Intervention Team, the University Counseling Center and the Sexual Assault Response Team. 

If you are the parent of a child who is suffering from alcohol or other drug use and/or abuse, then you have support options for yourself, as well!  Parents Helping Parents, for example, is an Oklahoma-based organization that empowers its members to exchange the chaos that addiction brings for peace as they learn tools to support recovery in their child of any age.  Check out their website for information on parent meetings, library materials and more.

If you are not sure who to call or write, then please contact the Comprehensive Alcohol Program and we will discreetly refer you or the student to the appropriate help. Regardless of the nature of the concern, you should continue to stay actively involved in the life of your child.  A number of students who violated OU Alcohol Policy have stated that parental moral support is a positive force in their choice to change their health behavior.  So, let's work together to keep our university students informed, healthy and happy!  

Do you have questions or concerns?

Do not hesitate to contact our office if you have any questions or concerns regarding the Alcohol Policy and/or problematic behavior of OU students.