Alcohol & Other Drugs

Determining if you have a substance abuse problem –or someone you know has one--can be difficult as “typical use” in college may actually be harmful.  Understanding the warning signs and dispelling myths about substance use improves access to care for students seeking help. Additionally, it also puts students, faculty, and staff in a better position to support someone who wants to abstain from alcohol and other drugs, encourage moderate alcohol use if they decide to use, and assist those who show signs of problem drinking and other drug use. 

Use vs. Abuse

No two words appear to create more confusion regarding alcohol and other drug use than the terms "use" and "abuse". Alcohol and other drug use refers to the amount (quantity) that one consumes. Alcohol and other drug use can lead to abuse when one engages in high-risk usage despite repeated negative consequences (e.g. legal, physical, psychological, medical, academic problems, etc.).

Despite common perceptions that all college students drink heavily, data from national statistics suggests that most college students drink moderately. Dartmouth's own evaluation and research team has discovered the same results. A majority of Dartmouth students drink 0-4 drinks when they party.

Clues to High-Risk Use

Peer Concerns

  • Use to get intentionally drunk/high
  • Use to avoid (or out of) boredom
  • Use to gain social acceptance
  • Miss class due to the effects of drugs/alcohol
  • Sleep through class
  • Experience a change in attitude either when using or sober (e.g. belligerent, argumentative)
  • Change in mood either when using or sober (e.g. mood swings, irritability, etc.)
  • Experience black outs (forget things that happen while using)
  • Experience passing out (difficult to arouse)
  • Use alcohol or drugs to decrease anxiety and be able to talk/dance more easily at parties
  • Express suicidal ideation when using
  • Preload before parties (consume alcohol and other drugs before "going out" to gain "optimal buzz")
  • Engage in numerous sexual encounters while intoxicated
  • Dump friends who express concern about usage
  • Use to avoid thinking about problems
  • Has high tolerance
  • Drive while using and/or rides in a car with someone who is using

Faculty Concerns

  • Poor class attendance
  • Sudden change in attitude (e.g. neglecting academic studies)
  • Inattentive in class (e.g. avoids class discussions and tardiness)
  • Erratic behavior (e.g. mood swings)
  • Missing deadlines for assignments
  • Making excuses
  • Poor grooming
  • Writing assignments that focus on substance use and seem to be autobiographical

One sign doesn't mean that a problem exists. However, the accumulation of two or more signs increases the likelihood that a problem exists.

Treatment Options

The first step to seeking treatment at the Counseling Center is an assessment. An assessment is a structured interview designed to collect data about substance use and general mental health. After the assessment is completed, the client and clinician will discuss treatment options. Treatment options may include:

  • Individual Counseling: One-on-one short-term counseling sessions designed to help student explore issues related to alcohol and other drug use.
  • Group Therapy: A non-AA group designed to help students examine their relationship with alcohol and/or other drugs. Group topics include abstinence, peer pressure, intoxication, binge drinking, and health related risks. To learn more about group therapy call the Counseling Center at (603) 646-9442.

Appointments

To schedule an appointment for yourself or to talk to a counselor about a concern for a student, please call the Counseling Center at 603-646-9442.

Office Hours:

  • Fall, Winter, Spring Terms: Monday-Friday 8:00am - 4:30pm
     
  • Summer Term and Term Breaks: Monday-Friday 8:00am - 4:00pm

Crisis Counseling Hours:

The Counseling Center offers 24-hour crisis counseling for enrolled students or for those who are concerned about an enrolled student.

  • During Regular Business Hours: Call (603) 646-9442 and ask to speak with the counselor on-call or come to the Counseling Center on the second floor of Dick's House. Please inform our administrative staff that you have an urgent concern.
     
  • After Regular Business Hours: The counselor On-Call can be reached by calling Dick's House Inpatient Department (IPD) at (603) 646-9440 (Fall, Winter, Spring terms) or by calling Safety and Security at (603) 646-3333 (Summer term and term breaks).

How to Help

If you know a student who exhibits any of the signs listed under 'Clues to High-Risk Use', you can help by doing the following:

  • Talk to student when they are sober
  • Relay concerns and avoid judging
  • Describe to student specific behavior you have observed
  • Talk to student about potential and actual consequences of behavior
  • Talk to student in group format, if one or more persons express concern
  • Contact Health Resources and/or the Counseling Center for tips on how to intervene
  • Provide student with campus resources (names, phone numbers, places, etc.)
  • Adapted from "Making the Link-Faculty and Prevention" The Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention

When to Contact Emergency Services

If a person who has been using shows any one of these signs....

  • Difficult to arouse
  • Shallow breathing
  • Uncontrollable vomiting
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Fever or chills
  • Skin that is blue under finger nails
  • An intent on driving while using
  • Combativeness and belligerence

Do not wait! Call 911 or Safety & Security at 603-646-3333.