The Substance Abusing Student

Given the stresses of college life and cultural messages linking alcohol and drugs as a normal part of a student’s life, it is not surprising that substance abuse is prevalent on college campuses. Alcohol is the most abused substance among college students and the single greatest cause of preventable death among college students.

Signs of a student being under the influence include:

  • Frequent and unexplained absences from class
  • Decrease in class participation
  • Slurred speech, glassy or blood shot eyes
  • An alcohol or drug odor
  • Confusion, memory loss
  • Irritability, angry outbursts
  • Fatigue and sleepiness
  • Decrease in academic performance
  • Erratic, bizarre behavior

In helping the substance abusing student, here are some do’s and don’ts:


  • Share your concern for the student
  • Discuss behavioral observations such as “Your speech is slurred”
  • Encourage the student to seek help at the Counseling Center
  • Call for help from Campus Police if the student becomes disruptive


  • Ignore the problem
  • Criticize or demean the student
  • Enable the behavior by making excuses for the behavior
  • Become accusatory