Alcohol and Drug Abuse Resources for Students

Drinking issues are a growing concern on college campuses nationwide, particularly for first-year college students. New students often feel an amazing amount of independence during their first year in college. You may find your student testing boundaries and exploring new beliefs and behaviors. However, sometimes they are unaware of the consequences of their decisions. Talk openly with your student about attending parties, alcohol and drug use, sexual decisions, safety and peer pressure. Although these conversations can be tough, they are extremely important. Families have more influence than they realize when it comes to students making positive decisions about such life situations.

Below is a list of several tools you may find helpful in starting the discussion about alcohol and other drugs with your student. If you have further questions or concerns, feel free to contact Ann Wendle, Director of the Connection Program at (717) 477-1536 or

The use and abuse of alcohol and drugs are serious issues that should not be ignored or minimized. If left untreated, use and abuse can develop into substance use disorder. As a result, it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of alcohol and drug abuse early. If you're worried that your student might be abusing alcohol or drugs, here are some of the warning signs to look for:

Physical and Health Warning Signs of Drug Abuse

  • Eyes that are bloodshot or pupils that are smaller or larger than normal.
  • Frequent nosebleeds could be related to snorted drugs (meth or cocaine).
  • Changes in appetite or sleep patterns. Sudden weight loss or weight gain.
  • Seizures without a history of epilepsy.
  • Deterioration in personal grooming or physical appearance.
  • Impaired coordination, injuries/accidents/bruises that they won't or can't tell you about- they don't know how they got hurt.
  • Unusual smells on breath, body, or clothing.
  • Shakes, tremors, incoherent or slurred speech, impaired or unstable coordination.

Behavioral Signs of Alcohol or Drug Abuse

  • Skipping class, declining grades, getting in trouble at school.
  • Drop in attendance and performance at work- loss of interest in extracurricular activities, hobbies, sports or exercise- decreased motivation.
  • Missing money, valuables, prescription or prescription drugs, borrowing and stealing money.
  • Acting isolated, silent, withdrawn, engaging in secretive or suspicious behaviors.
  • Clashes with family values and beliefs.
  • Preoccupation with alcohol and drug-related lifestyle in music, clothing and posters.
  • Demanding more privacy, locking doors and avoiding eye contact.
  • Sudden change in relationships, friends, favorite hangouts, and hobbies.
  • Frequently getting into trouble (arguments, fights, accidents, illegal activities).
  • Using incense, perfume, air freshener to hide smell of smoke or drugs.
  • Using eye drops to mask bloodshot eyes and dilated pupils.

Psychological Signs of Alcohol or Drug Abuse

  • Unexplained, confusing change in personality and/or attitude.
  • Sudden mood changes, irritability, angry outbursts or laughing at nothing.
  • Periods of unusual hyperactivity or agitation.
  • Lack of motivation; inability to focus, appears lethargic or “spaced out.”
  • Appears fearful, withdrawn, anxious, or paranoid, with no apparent reason.