CROSSROADS & Faculty: Partners in Prevention

For many years, UNCW has been examining and responding to alcohol and other drug abuse as it affects our campus community. You, as a faculty member, play a unique role in prevention and education efforts because you have an on-going relationship with students. Faculty are our greatest ally in a true institutional response.

GETTING INVOLVED:

  • Internships and Student Learning. CROSSROADS is committed to creating meaningful experiences for students. We regularly work with undergraduate and graduate level interns, hire graduate assistants, and arrange group and individual projects. Contact us for more information about creating academic opportunities for your students.
  • Research projects. Science based theory and prevention is at the heart of the CROSSROADS mission. Developing partnerships with faculty on research projects related to areas of drug and alcohol abuse prevention is a priority for the office. If you have an idea for a research project, please contact us to discuss how we can work together.
  • Get active in the Chancellor's Advisory Board on Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Use or the Cape Fear Coalition for a Drug Free Tomorrow. The Chancellor's Advisory Board examines broad campus issues regarding the use of alcohol tobacco and other drugs and makes recommendations to the chancellor about policies and programs. The Cape Fear Coalition for a Drug-Free Tomorrow works to reduce alcohol and substance abuse by youth in the Wilmington area. 
  • Curriculum Infusion and Student Assignments. There are few disciplines that do not have some room for a connection to such a pervasive cultural issue as substance use. By tying alcohol/drug related topics into your curriculum, you will have a powerful influence on students learning and critical thinking on this topic. Allow and encourage alcohol/drug related themes in projects and papers. CROSSROADS has an extensive resource library of books, videos, and pamphlets for student use. Additionally, CROSSROADS staff can meet with students who are working on assignments for interviews and to help them find resources and references.

DON'T CANCEL THAT CLASS!

When you're out of town or unavailable to teach your class, please consider inviting CROSSROADS to do a presentation. Professionals from CROSSROADS can work with you to create a presentation that links drug and alcohol issues to your curriculum or simply do a presentation to your classroom that is tailored to your concerns for them and their particular demographics. Find more information here.

INDICATORS OF A STUDENT'S ALCOHOL OR OTHER DRUG PROBLEM

As faculty, advisors, and educational staff, you are often in the unique position to observe students' behaviors over a period of time and may sometimes notice changes that concern you.

Some signs that substance abuse may be a problem for a student include:

  • Coming to class drunk or high
  • Smelling alcohol on a student's breath
  • Continually sleeping in class, skipping class
  • Late or missing assignments
  • Judicial trouble from alcohol, drugs, DWI's, and/or violence
  • Noticeable health problems-bruises, injuries, often sick
  • Expressing a desire to stop using or cut back
  • Other students, faculty, or staff expressing concern
  • Although the observation of a single indicator is inconclusive, it can suggest the possibility of a substance abuse problem. The important point is recognizing a pattern of behavior, which may point to the development of harmful alcohol and/or other drug use.

RESPONDING TO A SUBSTANCE ABUSE PROBLEM

With enough observation, you may want to have a conversation with a student to express both awareness of the person's behavior and your concern about it.

Some basic steps guide this decision:

  • Choose a time and place when the individual is most receptive. This includes when the individual is not under the influence of any substance and in a private setting.
  • Tell the person why you are talking to him or her. This is a statement of concern and caring.
  • Describe the behavior you have seen; be specific as to the time, place, and the behavior you witnessed.
  • Express your concern with this behavior. What consequences, if any, will occur if it continues?

During this discussion, do not expect a genuine resolution to change. If an individual is using alcohol/drugs in a problematic way, denial will be high. Also do not assume that you will make an immediate difference. Many times it takes a variety of people responding to the problematic behavior on a continuous, repetitive basis. Most of the time, those intervening lay the foundation for a later person to have the ultimate impact.

Finally, you may realize that you may not be the best person to talk with the student; in this case, someone else could be contacted to intervene.

IN THE KNOW: THE SOCIAL NORMS STRATEGY

Have you seen our posters publicizing the fact that most UNCW students have 0 to 5 drinks when they party? These posters are an example of our social norms marketing campaign. The social norms approach to reducing student binge drinking, developed by Alan Berkowitz, PhD. and used widely around the country, seeks to correct students' misperception of alcohol use by their fellow students. Typically, students mistakenly believe that other students are drinking more than is actually the case. As a result, according to the social norms theory, the typical student drinks more than he/she might otherwise in order to meet this "perceived norm."

UNCW collects student data in two areas: 1) how much students believe that other students drink, and 2) how much students report drinking themselves. Then, as part of our overall efforts to reduce binge drinking among students, we use this collected data to more accurately portray the "true norm" of drinking. Do your students doubt the numbers? Many do. Students often perceive the behavior of their immediate social group as the common reality, plus they remember disruptive actions and consequences of heavy users, but not the uneventful healthy choices of most students. Initial studies show that UNCW students now estimate use by other students much more accurately.

Find more information about our social norms campaigns and research.


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