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 firstname.lastname@example.org. All communications are confidential and a student will not face disciplinary or legal action for admitting drug or alcohol use.