Like other campuses across the nation, UCSB struggles with the issue of alcohol
and other drug use among students. Alcohol in particular has caused problems since
the first colleges and universities were founded and remains to this day the drug
most abused by students. Results from the highly publicized Harvard School of Public
Health College Alcohol Study (2001) reveal that 44% of college students nationwide
report binge drinking (a binge is defined as consuming five or more drinks for males
and four or more drinks for females in one sitting). At UCSB, the 2008 Safer California
Universities survey indicates that 51% of UCSB students report binge drinking in
the previous two weeks. This means that many UCSB students sometimes engage in high
risk drinking—drinking that increases the risk of negative legal, physical, personal
and/or academic consequences. In fact, 56% of UCSB students report experiencing
some kind of minor personal problem (such as missing class, having a memory loss,
having a hangover, vomiting) at least once during the past quarter as a result of
drinking. While alcohol is the most commonly used substance among UCSB students,
the same 2008 survey reveals that 39% report using marijuana in the past quarter,
and 17% report using an illegal drug other than marijuana in the past quarter. Some
students report using amphetamines, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, and other hallucinogens.
In recent years, there has been an increase among college students in the illegal
recreational use of prescription drugs such as Vicodin, and the illegal use of prescription
stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall as performance enhancing “study drugs.”
While some students decrease alcohol and/or drug use after their first two to three
years in college, others continue to binge drink or use drugs and eventually develop
a substance abuse disorder. Some of the features of problematic drinking or substance
abuse that might be evidenced at the university level are a failure to fulfill major
obligations at school and/or work such as absences, tardiness, incomplete assignments,
performing below potential; substance use in situations in which it is physically
hazardous such as driving under the influence or walking along the cliffs while
intoxicated; substance-related legal problems such as fighting while under the influence,
damaging property, date or acquaintance rape, sexual harassment; continued substance
use despite recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused by the substance such
as losing friends, significant others, and family members; continued use despite
repeated harmful consequences such as being placed on academic probation, losing
a part time job, being arrested, or having an accident.
When you become aware of a student with problematic drinking or a substance use problem:
- Treat the situation as serious, but withhold judgment and try to remain objective.
- Be aware that problematic use of substance is not based on a logical process,
so lecturing is not effective.
- Hold the person responsible for his/her behaviors
- Be aware that denial is very powerful and includes conscious
lying, unconscious lying, distortions and, at times, delusions.
- Be aware that
for a student who is addicted to a substance, cravings or hunger for the substance
may be increased by stress.
- Be aware that the more a student is exposed to treatment
opportunities, the better chance there is that he or she will be motivated to change
- Refer the student to the Alcohol and Drug Program for a drug and alcohol
assessment, counseling, and/or a support group (893-5013 or 893-3371). Information
is also available on the ADP Program website, http://alcohol.sa.ucsb.edu
- Make light of drug and drinking stories or joke about them.
- Tell your personal stories of party days while in college.
- Engage in drug use or drinking with the students.
- Assume college drug and alcohol experimentation is harmless. Each year,
many UCSB students are seen in local hospital emergency rooms for overdose and alcohol/drug-related problems.