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Alcohol 101: Class intended to curb substance abuse

Students Drinking

If you're the parent of a college-aged student, recent alcohol-related deaths afflicting the age group may have you feeling scared and helpless.

Before worry gets the best of you, remember the important role you play. According to Extension family relations specialist Jodi Dworkin, studies show that parents can still influence student behavior during college.

Dworkin, along with the University of Minnesota Parent Program and the Department of Family Social Science, saw an opportunity to put parental influence to good use and seized it. From their collaborative effort came an online course for parents. "Alcohol Use on Campus" addresses the dangers of college binge drinking and consequences of alcohol poisoning, while offering suggestions for parent-child discussions and a list of helpful resources.

"While parents often talk to their high school students about drinking, the whole situation changes when they enter college and move away from home," Dworkin says.

Alcohol Use on Campus costs $20. For more information on the course, visit

Parents aren't powerless when it comes to college students and drinking

Jodi Dworkin talking

Jodi Dworkin, co-author of Alcohol Use on Campus, shares these tips for talking with college students about alcohol:

  • Bring up the topic in terms of what you've seen in the news: "I saw that a student died after drinking on her 21st birthday. These stories worry me. Do you see a lot of heavy drinking?"
  • Talk about legal, financial, health and safety concerns. Students do not always know the scope of the problems related to drinking.
  • Ask your student what there is to do on campus that doesn't involve drinking. This encourages your student to think about the alternatives.
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