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For Parents & Family

We believe parents and family are essential partners in our efforts to support students in making healthy decisions. The more you know about the issues surrounding alcohol and other drugs, and the more you talk about them with your student, the more effective our partnership will be.

Parents often ask if the University will contact them if their student is involved in a disciplinary matter related to alcohol or other drugs. In most cases, we ask the student to talk to his or her parents first, and we request that parents call us to confirm this conversation. In more serious disciplinary situations, we will contact parents directly.

Here are several helpful resources for parents and family.

Advice to Parents with Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse

Get Involved

It is important to stay informed about issues involving alcohol and other drugs and keep an open dialogue with your college student. Even though your child is now in college, you can still be highly influential in the choices they make. 

Stay Involved

Talk openly with your student.

Initiating a conversation communicates caring, availability and support. Discuss risks, safety, family values, and expectations. Allow your student to talk about any concerns they may have. For more information about how to have these conversations refer to the following resources:

AlcoholEdu for College

If your student is an incoming freshman or transfer student, remind them to complete AlcoholEdu for College. AlcoholEdu for College is an online prevention program that focuses on the impact of alcohol on the mind and body. It is required for all first-year and transfer students, whether they choose to consume alcohol or not. AlcoholEdu for College will empower your student to make well-informed decisions and better cope with the drinking behavior of peers.

Campus Policies

Review the campus policies on alcohol and other drugs with your student. We expect Northwestern students to abide by state and local laws and campus policies. We will hold them accountable for their actions.

Amnesty = Community of Care 

Encourage your student to take responsible action for themselves or others when facing an emergency situation. The Amnesty through Responsible Action protocol in the Student Code of Conduct states that all Northwestern students are expected to get help in an emergency situation involving alcohol or other drugs. When they have properly followed the expected steps of 'Call. Stay.Cooperate.' they will not be found responsible for an alcohol or other drug related policy violation. To learn how to recognize and appropriately respond to these situations, students can participate in the Red Watch Band Bystander Intervention Training program on campus. For detailed questions regarding Amnesty, contact Community Standards.

Promote involvement in clubs, service, and recreational activities.

Campus involvement creates opportunities to meet people and have fun without focusing on alcohol or other drugs. NU Nights is a student-run organization that hosts free alternative events for the Northwestern community. They provide both on and off-campus programming that usually runs from 8 pm to 11 pm (typically, but not always, on Fridays). Find out more information on current and upcoming events

Encourage your student to explore his or her own alcohol or other drug use.

Brief Alcohol/drug Screening and Intervention for College Students (BASICS) provides an opportunity for Northwestern students to explore their drinking and other drug use in a confidential and non-judgmental environment. A trained professional will provide feedback and explore ways to reduce risks. They can also complete a brief, anonymous online survey that provides personalized feedback with eCheckUp to Go for alcohol or cannabis. 

College Drinking, Changing the Culture

The parent section of College Drinking, Changing the Culture includes facts about the consequences of college drinking and helpful advice about talking with your student about alcohol, staying involved during freshman year, and how to get assistance if faced with an alcohol-related crisis.

Cannabis and Adolescents

How THC is being ingested is rapidly changing with the growing trend of teen vaping. Dr. Nora Volkow discusses this issue and what parents should know to help keep their teens healthy.

Additional support for understanding cannabis today and what you can do to support your student by having meaningful conversations can be found on College Parents Matter/Cannabis.