The Substance Abusing Student

Given the stresses of university life and our culture's messages linking alcohol use and college life, students are especially susceptible to drug abuse. A variety of substances are available that provide escape from pressing demands. However, drugs soon create their own set of problems in the form of addiction, accident proneness, and declining academic performance. The most abused substance -- so commonplace we often forget that it is a drug -- is alcohol. Alcohol and other drug-related accidents remain the greatest single cause of preventable death among college students.

  • Be on the alert for signs of drug abuse:
    • preoccupation with drugs,
    • reduced ability to participate in class activities,
    • deteriorating performance in class, and/or
    • periods of memory loss (blackouts).
  • Share your honest concern for the person and discuss your concern behaviorally (e.g., "Your performance is dropping in class," "You do no participate as much," "You turn in assignments late").
  • Encourage the student to seek help or referral information at the Counseling Center.
  • Get help from Campus Police in instances of out-of-control and/or intoxicated behavior.
  • Ignore the problem.
  • Chastise or lecture.
  • Enable the behavior by giving undeserved "breaks."
  • Accuse the student of drug/alcohol problem.