Students in front of the University Health Center, University of Georgia
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Just for Parents: Guide to Alcohol and Other Drugs

Campuses across the country are showing similar trends to the University of Georgia in terms of alcohol and other drug (AOD) use. It is critical for parents to know and understand these trends and the culture surrounding AOD as they prepare to send their students to the University. Communication with your student is key for his/her success. Please take the time to review the following topics:

Use and Risks
State, Local and Campus Laws and Policies
What Can Parents Do?
How Students are Enabled to Make High-Risk Choices

For more in-depth information, visit the Alcohol and Other Drug pages at

Use and Risks

Alcohol and other drug use typically does not begin when a student enters a university setting. This was revealed in the First-Year Student Orientation Surveys at the University of Georgia. The surveys were distributed during the 2002 and 2004 summer orientation sessions at UGA. These examined parent perceptions of student use and actual student use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. The table below compares how these parental perceptions and actual student use were different.

Incoming students reported using the following substances at least once in the year prior to attending UGA Parent Perceptions of their own student's use Incoming Student actual use
  2002 2004 2002 2004
Tobacco 13.6% 9.5% 33.9% 30.0%
Alcohol 52.2% 46.3% 69.4% 68.1%
Marijuana 9.5% 6.8% 27.1% 22.0%
Other illegal drug 2.5% 1.2% 7% 5.1%

The Core Alcohol and Other Drug Survey was conducted in 2005. It revealed:

  • 74.4% of UGA students under 21 consumed alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs within the last 30 days
  • 44.3% of UGA students experienced peer pressure to drink or use drugs

Consequences of Alcohol Use
There are a variety of problems associated with high-risk drinking and drug use. For instance, a person's abstract thinking can be impaired for 28 to 30 days after one night of heavy drinking. These problems can be intensified on a university campus. Here are some of the effects of drinking at UGA collected in the 2005 Core Alcohol and Other Drug Survey.

Problem Associated with Alcohol and Drug Use Percent Experienced
Did something you regret 52.6%
Missed a class 53.4%
Driven a car under the influence 35.9%
Had memory loss 48.3%
Got into a fight or argument 43.4%
Performed poorly on test 33.4%
Been hurt or injured 18.8%
Been taken advantage of sexually 12.6%
Seriously thought about suicide 3.2%
Arrested for a DWI/DUI 2.2%

State, Local and Campus Laws and Policies

It is imperative that your student is aware of the laws and policies enforced at the University of Georgia, Athens/Clarke county, and the state of Georgia.

  • In Georgia, the legal drinking age is 21
  • It is illegal to possess/use a fake identification or use someone else's identification
  • It is illegal to possess an open container of alcohol in Athens/Clarke County
  • No person under 21 years of age can possess or consume alcohol and/or other drugs on campus or in the residence halls at UGA
  • There is a no-smoking policy in all residence halls on campus

UGA Policies can be found at the Office of Student Conduct website.

Parental Notification Policy
The Office of Judicial Programs will notify parents or guardians when a student is found to have violated Code of Conduct policies on the use or possession of alcohol or other drugs when he/she is under the age of 21 and one or more of the following occurs when:

  • A student has been found to have violated the alcohol or other drug policy a second time and every subsequent time.
  • There is significant property damage.
  • Medical attention to any person, including the student, is required as a result of the student's alcohol or drug-related behavior.
  • The student demonstrates reckless disregard for his or her personal safety or the safety of others.
  • There is evidence that the student's alcohol or drug-related behavior negatively impacts the learning environment.

What Can Parents Do?

Many times parents and young adults have a difficult time talking about alcohol and other drugs (AOD). To avoid negative outcomes, it is important for parents and students to be aware of the risks and possible consequences associated with AOD use. Research indicates that parents play a key role in the overall success of university students.

Here are a few ways to talk to your student and some topics that should be discussed.

What to do right now:

  • Communicate the facts and risks regarding AOD use.
  • Set clear and realistic expectations regarding academics, finances and AOD use.
    (The University recommends that students follow the 0-1-3 guideline to reduce heatlh, impairment and legal risks.)
  • Know the social scene at UGA and talk to your student about it.
  • Discuss a balance between social time and study time.
  • Be a good example/role model.
  • Understand how enabling behaviors can increase risk for problems.
  • Continue the dialog and carefully listen to your student.

Conversation Starters

  • Have you decided whether or not to drink, smoke or use other drugs at UGA?
  • How can I help you with that decision?
  • Let's talk about the pros, cons, and risks associated with your decisions.

If your student intends not to drink, ask:

  • What will you do if you find yourself at a party with only alcohol to drink?
  • What will you say if someone asks you why you are not drinking?
  • What will you do if someone offers you other drugs?
  • What will you do if you are asked to "baby-sit" someone who is very drunk? How will you know if he/she may have alcohol poisoning?

Once your student is at UGA, ask questions such as:

  • What do you think of the classes you are taking?
  • How are you getting involved on campus?
  • Are you meeting many new people?
  • What is the social scene like, what do you do for fun?
  • What is different from what you expected?
  • What challenges have you faced?


How Students are Enabled to Make High Risk Choices

Enabling is any response people make to someone's high risk choices that allows them to keep making those choices without much sense of risk. There are a variety of ways that students are enabled to use alcohol and other drugs, many are very discreet. When enabling occurs, individuals do not experience as many of the negative consequences of their use.

Enabling behaviors include:

  • Denying there is a problem
  • Bailing out
  • Covering up
  • Making excuses
  • Offsetting consequences
  • Taking over responsibility
  • Encouraging high-risk use

Parents, faculty/staff, and peers can all play a role in enabling student's high-risk choices without being conscious of the impact of their actions. Therefore, we all have the responsibility and challenge to create an environment where low-risk choices are the norm.

If you are concerned about a student's possible alcohol or other drug problem, the AOD program at UGA has put together an excellent resource on How to Help a Friend or Family Member.


University of Georgia Resources:

University Health Center

Health Promotion Department


Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS)

Team of psychologists who work with alcohol and other drug issues Individual therapy

The Georgia Network of Colleges and Universities for the
Elimination of Alcohol and Drug Abuse

Athens Community Resources:

Advantage Behavioral Health Systems
Alcohol assessments
Risk reduction course/DUI School
Substance Abuse Treatment

Alcoholics Anonymous
Self help groups

The Commencement Center
Substance Abuce Treatment

Online Resources:

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Higher Education Center for Alcohol & Other Drug Prevention