As faculty, we see how alcohol and other drug misuse affect students’ academic performance. For example, some students miss class, pass in late assignments, fall asleep, or rarely participate because of their substance use. These behaviors can be a cry for help, and in these cases, faculty can make a difference. Faculty can encourage students to obtain help from the college counseling center. If a faculty member feels uncomfortable talking to the student, he or she can contact the Dean or another appropriate staff person on campus to recommend help for the student. Some campuses have dedicated programs such as CARE (Concern Awareness Response Support) that offer faculty, staff, and students a referral resource for persons at risk. Filling out a CARE report form prompts the Dean’s office or other campus support systems to check in with the student.
|Margaret A. Smith, Ph.D.|
Faculty also help contribute to the campus climate around alcohol and other drugs through their conversations with students. For example, faculty may hear students talking about how “everyone gets wasted in college” and can interrupt this conversation by providing campus-specific data that indicate many students either do not engage in high-risk drinking or do not drink. That is, not “everyone gets wasted.” Faculty members can learn if his/her campus has a social norms program, which can help correct misperceptions of campus alcohol and drug use. Other conversations can engage students in discussions around alcohol, other drugs, and addiction.
Faculty also can incorporate alcohol- and other drug-related topics in their courses. Psychology, sociology, biology, criminal justice, health science, public health, and other disciplines could offer lectures, assignments, and service learning experiences that focus on alcohol and other drugs. Some colleges have addiction-related programs or courses. If you are a faculty member who teaches about addiction, there is INCASE (International Coalition of Addiction Studies Education), which is a resource for those who specialize in teaching about addiction, alcohol, and other drugs.
Lastly, many colleges have alcohol and other drug task forces or committees which involve campus safety, counseling staff, faculty, residence hall staff, the alcohol and other drug education coordinator, campus health staff, campus conduct staff, and related professionals in addressing the issues that face the campus around alcohol and other drugs. Many times these committees are looking for more faculty to be active members.
If you are faculty member and want to know how to make a difference, contact your campus alcohol and other drug educator or your student affairs office and ask about the school’s alcohol and other drug abuse prevention efforts.