Pills next to a cup

Alcohol & Drugs

Alcohol abuse is not just a law enforcement problem; it is a problem that everyone in the community must address. The first step is to understand how alcohol abuse impacts students both emotionally and physically.

A 14-year study of 120 college campuses and almost 50,000 students conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health found that alcohol abuse is prominent on college campuses, with 44% of students attending 4-year colleges reporting drinking at the binge level or greater. Binge drinking, which by definition is at least five drinks in a row per occasion for males and four drinks for females, is particularly problematic on many campuses. 48% of students report that drinking to get drunk is an important reason for drinking.

According to both this study and studies conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the physical, legal, and emotional consequences for students who abuse alcohol are staggering. They include the following:

  • 17 times more likely to miss a class, 10 times more likely to vandalize property, and eight times more likely to get hurt or injured as a result of their drinking.
  • NIAA estimates that 1,700 college students ages 18-24 die each year from alcohol–related unintentional injuries, including motor vehicle crashes.
  • Two in three college presidents consider binge drinking a problem and are looking for ways to combat it.
  • About 10 percent of female students who are frequent binge drinkers report being raped or subjected to nonconsensual sex, compared to only three percent of female students who do not binge drink.

What Can We Do To Combat This Problem?

  • University and college administrators should enforce student guidelines regarding substance use on and off campus.
  • Resident advisors and peer educators should work with institutions like the Student Health Center and Student Psychological Services to help plan and implement interventions. They should also become involved in the review and assessment of alcohol programs on campus.
  • Parents should be encouraged by campus personnel to stay involved in the lives of their children, especially if their children have gone away for college. They should call and visit their children frequently, be aware of whom their children associate with, and know what counseling services are available at your campus.
  • Fraternities, sororities, and other student organizations should be encouraged by Student Affairs personnel to enforce clear policies regarding the use of alcoholic beverages at parties.
  • All university personnel should be aware of the signs of alcohol abuse (see below) and know how to assist students with finding help through the Student Health Center and Student Psychological Services.

Potential Signs That A Student is Suffering From an Alcohol Abuse Problem

  • The student has problems in school such as poor attendance, low grades, recent disciplinary action, inability to fulfill major responsibilities, etc.
  • The student is drinking in situations that are physically dangerous or is having alcohol-related legal problems on a recurring basis (e.g., driving under the influence).
  • The student experiences mood changes such as temper flare-ups, irritability, and defensiveness.
  • The student has physical or mental problems such as memory lapses, poor concentration, bloodshot eyes, lack of coordination, or slurred speech.

The dangers presented by illegal substances should not be underestimated, whether they be centered around the pain caused to society by crimes perpetrated by addicts to maintain their addictions or around the considerable toll inflicted on the health of individual users. Educating yourself about these drugs can help keep you and your loved ones safe. Listed below are a few of the more common drugs used today.

Helpful Resources

UNLV's Student Wellness Pharmacy
which offers students, staff, and faculty low, competitive prices on many prescription and over-the-counter medications. The pharmacy is now a participating drug take back location. Students, faculty, staff, and community members are welcome to come in during normal business hours and deposit any unused, expired or unwanted drugs in the receptacle located in the lobby on the first floor of the SRWC. For additional questions or information, please contact Dr. Mary Simon, PharmD at 702-895-0278.