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Navigating Important Conversations

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Navigating Important Conversations

Your wisdom and guidance have informed your students’ decisions up until this point in their lives. You will continue to play a critical role in supporting their overall health and well-being throughout their time on campus and beyond. 

We’ve found that having conversations about substance use with family members before their arrival on campus contributes to increased student safety, ownership of their choices, and more positive experiences throughout their time at Duke. 

Students who have already thought about their boundaries, social priorities, values, and familial expectations feel more confident in responding to challenges and scenarios that a new environment can bring, including choices around alcohol and other drug use. 

We offer the following suggestions below to help get the conversation started:  

  • If you choose not to drink or use other drugs, how will you avoid peer pressure? 
  • If you decide to drink or use other drugs, how might it impact your goals? 
  • What are reasonable limits (speed and quantity) for alcohol consumption? 
  • How will you know if you have had too much to drink? 
  • How will you avoid, or use caution, around liquor, knowing it is involved in most alcohol poisoning situations? 
  • How will you respond if a friend needs assistance after drinking or using other drugs? 

In addition to your conversations with your student, they will participate in the online, Wellness at Duke Module to gain additional knowledge and become aware of campus resources related to overall health and wellness and substance use. The module and orientation-week discussions will provide them with additional tools to make healthy, value-based decisions and build upon the concepts you and your student have already discussed. 

While you may not be a part of every decision that your student makes at Duke, we encourage you to be clear about what expectations you have for your student. Discussing expectations—whatever those may be—brings a sense of transparency and reminds students of their responsibility for their education. Conversations with your student are a vital part of their college preparation. 

For more information about substance use education on campus or for questions, contact DuWell ( and encourage your student to reach out if they want to talk to someone on campus about substance use.