Alcohol and Drug Abuse Resources for Faculty and Staff

Faculty and staff members have a considerable amount of positive influence on the student population. We know that alcohol and other drug use and abuse can often lead to negative consequences in the classroom- missing class, late work, failing grades, disrupting class or other's work, etc. As employees of the university, there are several ways to assist students in encouraging them to make healthy decisions.

Students often assume heavy and frequent drinking or drug use in college is normal and acceptable. These assumptions can lead to abuse and misuse. By adopting some of the suggestions listed below, you can help create a healthier campus culture.

In Class and Around Campus

  • Share accurate norms about SU students' drinking behavior: 78% of SU students have 0-5 drinks per week, 83% of SU students have not used marijuana in the past 30 days,  85% of incoming SU students reported they are moderate drinkers, if they even drink at all, and 82% of incoming SU students that choose to drink consume alcohol 1-2 days per week. (Information from CORE Spring Semester 2014 Survey and AlcoholEdu 2013-2014 data respectively)
  • Avoid joking about heavy drinking. This normalizes risky drinking behavior and may appear to condone it.
  • Avoid enabling the behavior (e.g., accepting excuses, pushing back deadlines and ignoring problems caused by drinking or drug use). Shielding a student from consequences indirectly allows them to continue drinking or using drugs in problematic ways.
  • Announce on- or off-campus events to promote school spirit, community engagement and alternatives to the party/bar scene.
  • Become familiar with the University's alcohol policies.  
  • In situations where you are with students in the presence of alcohol, let university policy and state law be your guide.

In the Classroom

  • Schedule classes, quizzes and deadlines on Mondays through Fridays. This discourages students from drinking heavily on weekday nights.
  • Make it clear that students' participation in class is important, and that alcohol impairment in the classroom is unacceptable.
  • Assign group projects. Working in groups is one way for students to build relationships outside the classroom without alcohol.
  • Integrate the subject matter of alcohol and other drug abuse into your courses when possible.

Because of their regular contact with students, faculty and staff are often among the first to notice that a student is having personal problems. While you are not expected to take on the role of counselor, you may be well positioned to connect a student to available help.

Potential Warning Signs of an Alcohol or Other Drug Problem

  • Appearing under the influence during class.
  • Smelling of alcohol during the day.
  • Missed coursework or classes due to alcohol or other drug use.
  • Preoccupation with alcohol and other drug use, which may be evident in conversation or course papers.
  • Changes in academic performance.
  • Changes in mood or behavior.
  • Getting into fights or becoming aggressive while under the influence.
  • Inability to control drinking; drinking more than intended; inability to have just one or two drinks.
  • Increase in tolerance to alcohol use.
  • Trouble with police or university officials because of alcohol or drug use.
  • Expressed concern from others because of the usage.
  • Blackouts (loss of memory) from alcohol or drug use.
  • Drinking or drug usage as a main priority.

How to Help

Intervention is a proactive method used to increase awareness of problem behaviors, prevent problems from becoming worse, and promote referral for further assessment and possible treatment. Intervention simply means meeting with a student and discussing your concern. The following are some tips for conducting an informal intervention:

  • Select a private location.
  • Let the student know that you are genuinely concerned.
  • Describe to the student the specific behaviors that have caused you to be concerned.
  • Speak to the student in an objective, unequivocal, nonjudgmental manner.
  • Have resource information ready to provide to the student (The Connection Alcohol and Other Drug Program, Counseling Center, Women's Center).
  • Be prepared for the student to provide excuses, promise behavior change, and attempt to redirect the conversation, or pass the problem off as no big deal.
  • If possible, offer to assist the student in making the contact to the appropriate office or program that deals with alcohol and/or drug abuse.

Remember that even if the student refuses your help, you are an important part of the process in helping him/her recognize that there is a problem. If you are uncomfortable intervening with the student yourself but would still like to help, you can contact the Connection Program director directly at (717) 477-1536 or All communications are confidential and a student will not face disciplinary or legal action for admitting drug or alcohol use.