Parents and Family Members

You are our greatest partner in prevention!

Research has shown that when young adults are faced with the decision to use or not to use alcohol and drugs in college, parents and peers matter. Particularly during the transition from high school to college, parental permissiveness, physical home environments, and how parents or guardians talk to their children about substance use matters. While many young adults are looking to establish their independence during their college years, they are also going through a highly transformational life stage. It is the people closest to them that they often turn to for advice and support.

Do not underestimate the influence parents, families, and peers have! The best thing you can do is start the conversation!

SAMHSA’s “Talk. They Hear You.” mobile app helps parents and caregivers prepare for some of the most important conversations you may ever have with your kids. It shows you how to turn everyday situations into opportunities to talk with you children about alcohol and other drugs, and equips you with the necessary skills, confidence, and knowledge to start and continue these conversations as your kids get older. 

The “Talk. They Hear You.” campaign mobile app is available on the App Store, Google Play, and the Microsoft Store.

Watch this quick video to learn more about the app and see how it works:

Parent Handbook

It is important for you to talk to your student about your expectations, beliefs and values about drinking and drug use, class attendance and staying in touch. Do your best to avoid "lecturing" your student and keep an open mind. Fear of punishment can deter students from fully sharing what they are feeling or experiencing. 

Talking to students about alcohol and drug use takes practice but the Parent Handbook has some great tips to help families navigate getting the conversation started.

For freshmen, in particular, the first six weeks of the semester are a vulnerable time because of: 

  • the increased availability of alcohol;
  • the absence of parents; and
  • the desire to fit in as they establish their lives in a new place.

Together, these factors can lead to risky behavioral decisions. We encourage you to stay in close contact with your student throughout the academic year. Speak honestly about your own experiences and opinions. Be careful not to glamorize any past use of alcohol or other drugs. Ask open-ended questions and, most importantly, listen. Some questions you may want to ask are:

  • How are you doing?
  • What kinds of activities are you enjoying in your free time?
  • What activities are you doing for stress relief?
  • How are you getting along with your roommate(s)?
  • What are your plans for the weekend?
  • How are you feeling about these plans?
  • What is your plan for making sure you and your friends stay safe?
  • Are you comfortable calling me if you need help or is there someone else you feel comfortable contacting if you need help?
  • Are you feeling overwhelmed at all? 
  • In what ways can I help support you?

Don't hesitate to check in with your student on nights when college students typically drink, around the holidays, or during events when drinking is a central activity. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights are popular nights for students to drink. There are several times during the academic year when high-risk drinking increases. It is especially important that you touch base with your student to reinforce risk-reduction messages during the following times:

  • The first weeks of school
  • Homecoming Weekend (usually late September or early October)
    Halloween
  • Spring Break
  • St. Patrick's Day/Parade Day
  • Cinco de Mayo
  • Spring Fling (first weekend in May)
  • Bar Crawl (usually Thursday before Commencement Weekend)

The best thing you can do is be proactive and encourage your student to HAVE A PLAN!

Students tend to exaggerate the use of alcohol and other drugs by their peers.
Encourage your student to get to know the myths and misperceptions about the
use of alcohol or drugs at Binghamton University. Help them realize it is normal and totally okay not to use alcohol or other illicit substances.  

Risk Reduction

We prefer that underage students don't drink alcohol, but we want them to be prepared if they choose to drink. Teaching students risk-reduction strategies can go a long way in preventing high-risk drinking and its negative effects. You and your family can help us reinforce key strategies for staying safe:

  • Predetermine how many drinks you'll have and have a method for keeping track (i.e rubber bands on wrist, phone app, etc.).
  • Have a designated sober driver or plan to get home safely.
  • Eat food before drinking alcoh0l and, if possible, at the same time.
  • Pace yourself and don't try to keep up with or out-drink others.
  • Alternate alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic drinks.
  • Avoid "mega" drinks like Long Island Iced Tea, kamikazes, margaritas: each contains five or more times the alcohol of a standard drink.
  • Avoid pregaming altogether or limit it to one or two drinks.
  • Avoid drinking games altogether or use water instead.
  • Always mix your own drinks and never leave your drink unattended.
  • Avoid shots.
  • Avoid mixing alcohol with any other drugs, including caffeine.
  • Stay with your friends/watch out for each other.
  • Know who to call in case of emergency.

Good Samaritan Law

In cases of alcohol and drug intoxication, our primary concern is the health and safety of the individual(s) involved. No student seeking medical treatment for an alcohol or other drug-related overdose or other life-threatening medical emergency, for themselves or a friend, will be subject to University discipline for the sole violation of using or possessing alcohol or drugs.

Prescription Drugs

We also strongly encourage you to talk to your student about the dangers of prescription drug misuse and abuse. Taking someone else's prescriptions, or sharing your own, is dangerous, illegal and violates the Code of Student Conduct.  In New York state, selling your prescription drug is a felony and is punishable with a large fine and up to 15 years in state prison. 


Abusing prescription medications can result in:

  • increases in blood pressure or heart rate
  • organ damage
  • addiction
  • breathing difficulties
  • seizures
  • heart attack or stroke
  • death

Binghamton University and the local community has numerous resources available to help your student. We encourage you to visit the "resources" page of our website and become familiar with the services available to your student on and off campus. In addition, you may contact the departments below, should you be concerned about the safety and well-being of your student.

  • Dean of Students Office: (607) 777-2804
    Our office provides opportunities and experiences that support student learning and personal development, as well as help students with issues affecting their academic and personal life at Binghamton University.
  • University Police Department: (607) 777-2222 (emergency) / (607) 777-2392 (non-emergency)
    Our primary mission is to provide a safe environment for the campus community. Protecting life and property, preventing and investigating crime and maintaining public order are among our top priorities.