Substance Use and Abuse

College student drinking affects almost all college campuses. Excessive drinking among students has been linked to death, injury, assault, sexual abuse, unsafe sex, academic problems, and drunk driving.

Half of all college students will engage in binge drinking. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has defined binge drinking as five or more drinks in a row for men, and four or more drinks in a row for women at least once within a two-week period.

Student groups who may be particularly vulnerable to binge drinking are:

  • First-year students
  • Students in Greek Life
  • Student athletes

Effects of Binge Drinking

  • Missing classes
  • Falling behind on school work
  • Driving drunk or getting in the car with an intoxicated drivers
  • Getting in trouble with campus police
  • Physical injury
  • Impulsive behavior and impaired decision-making
  • Blacking out or forgetting parts of the night
  • Alcohol poisoning or loss of consciousness
  • Exacerbating mental health concerns that are already present
  • Ruined reputations because of embarrassing photos
  • Developing a physical and emotional dependence on alcohol
  • Impaired cognitive functioning (not only while intoxicated)

Could Your Substance Use Be a Problem?

Because alcohol and other drug use can be quite common among college students, it can sometimes be hard to discern when the amount or frequency on one's drinking or the effects of one's drinking are becoming a problem.

If you are uncertain about your drinking behaviors or use of other substances, you can ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you drink or use drugs for a quick pick-me-up?
  • Do you drink or use drugs out of boredom?
  • Do you drink to the point of “brown- or black-out”?
  • Do you drink or use drugs to fit in?
  • Do you something drink or use more than you intended?
  • When you drink or use drugs, do you find yourself in situations you later regret?
  • Do you sometimes feel guilty about your drinking or drug use?
  • Do you become angry or agitated when others mention your drinking or drug use?
  • Do you drink more than you used to in order to get the same effects?
  • Do you find yourself skipping work and class or putting things off because of drinking/drug use or thinking about it?
  • Have you been unsuccessful in cutting down?
  • Do you ever drink or use drugs first thing in the morning?
  • Do you continue drinking or using despite negative consequences?

If you answered "Yes" to one or more of these questions, you can consult with a counselor to find out more. The Counseling Center can help you explore your substance use behaviors and any concerns that you or others may have by scheduling an appointment with the Counseling Center.

You can complete a confidential self-assessment to provide valuable feedback on alcohol use while educating about the harmful effects of use through e-Chug and Other Alcohol Online Self-Assessment Tools.

Coping Skills

Utilize these tips to stay safe and healthy during social activities that may involve alcohol or other substances:

  • Have a plan in place for transportation (designated driver, taxi/ride share service, bust etc.) before you start drinking.
  • Take advantage of non-drinking activities and events.
  • Keep track of the amount of drinks or substances you have consumed. Consider downloading an alcohol tracker app to help count your drinks.
  • Have a meal or snack before drinking alcohol, and be sure to consume water throughout the time you are drinking.
  • Try activities other than going to parties or bars, such as game nights, movies, city excursions, group fitness classes, or playing a sport.
  • Buddy up while drinking or using substances in order to stay safe.

If you are with someone who may be in danger after drinking or using drugs:

  • Stay with the person and monitor their consciousness (ability to wake up) and breathing.
  • Do not allow the person any more alcohol or substances.
  • Have the person either sit or lay on their side with support (to prevent rolling over and choking on vomit).
  • Call 9-1-1 if the person's breathing is slow or irregular or if they are short of breath, they cannot keep key contact or balance, they are slurring their speech, their body temperature is abnormally high or low, or they are not conscious.

Services

If you have a pattern or engaging in binge drinking or drinking/using substances with negative consequences or if you believe that seeking services services to better understand or change your substance use behavior would be helpful, consider the following services available to IUP students:

  • The Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs Program at the Center for Health and Well-Being provides substance assessment and counseling for IUP students.
  • Twelve-Step Meetings and other recovery-oriented support groups are available to those who would like to change the way they use alcohol.

The Counseling Center provides the following services for substance use and abuse:

  • We provide counseling for students who are concerned about their drinking or drug use. If necessary, we provide referrals for drug and alcohol treatment centers.
  • We provide support, advice, and counseling for students as they maintain responsible drinking.
  • We help students for whom alcohol or drug use is secondary to other psychological or developmental issues cope more effectively with their symptoms or concerns.
  • We provide support, advice, and counseling for students who are concerned about the alcohol or drug use of others (family, friends, roommates, and so on).
  • The Counseling Center Case Manager can provide assistance with navigating referrals for off-campus treatment, including (if appropriate) inpatient or residential services.

If you have concerns about your drinking, or about someone else's drinking behaviors, please call us at 724-357-2621 or email us at counseling-center@iup.edu

For more information on IUP's policy regarding Drug and Alcohol Judicial Sanctions, please see the Office of Student Conduct.