Under the Influence
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Alcohol is the most widely-used psychoactive drug and the preferred drug on college campuses. It is common to find that students who abuse alcohol are also abusing other drugs, both prescription and illicit. Fads and peer pressure affect patterns of use. Binge drinking, defined as five drinks in a row for men, and four for women, is popular and can quickly become lethal. Other adverse effects of alcohol consumption include: hangovers, hospitalization for alcohol overdose, poor academic performance, class absences, injury, and unprotected sexual activity. Alcohol is the most common drug used by sexual predators to incapacitate victims and perpetrate sexual assault.
The effects of alcohol abuse are well known to most of us. Faculty often recognize substance abuse problems when a student's irresponsible, unpredictable behavior affects the learning situation (e.g., drunk and disorderly conduct in class), or when a combination of the health and social impairments associated with alcohol or drug abuse sabotages student performance.
Be aware that substance abuse may result in overly aggressive behavior. In such cases, remain calm and get help if necessary (send a student for a staff person, faculty member, department chair, or police officer). Stay safe by retaining access to a door, knowing whom to call (University Police -- 406-657-2222, for emergencies call 911), and keeping furniture (e.g., a desk) between you and the student. Do not threaten, corner, or touch the student.
- Privately confront the student about the specific, observed behavior that concerns you.
- Offer support and concern for his or her well-being.
- Suggest the student talk with someone about these issues and maintain contact with the student after a referral is made.
- If the behavior continues, consult with your department head and the Office of the Dean of Students at 406-994-2826.
*The above may be helpful only when the student is sober again.
- Conveying judgment or criticism of the student's substance abuse.
- Making allowances for the student's irresponsible behavior.
- Ignoring signs of intoxication in the classroom.
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