SHAW RNC 2024 Information
During the Republican National Convention being held in Milwaukee July 15-19, SHAW services will be available to students through virtual and limited in-person appointments. Online scheduling will not be available during this time, so please call 414-229-7429 to schedule. Read more...

Substance use can affect individual student health, engagement and academic success, as well as the campus and community climate. UWM is committed to working with students to create a safe, respectful and caring environment where drinking or drug use does not interfere with health, learning, quality of life and reaching one’s full potential.

UWM’s strong foundation of evidence-based prevention and education around alcohol and drug misuse has helped the campus respond to the opioid overdose epidemic. From confidential screenings and treatment to policy enforcement and healthy environments, UWM continues to adapt to students’ needs. Here is a brief summary of existing and upcoming strategies UWM developed to keep the campus community safe and healthy: Preventing Overdose – Education, Tools and Strategies.

Support for Students

Wondering about your drinking or drug use? Considering a change? Seeking to connect with other students in recovery?

We are here to help! The following resources can help students…

  • Explore and assess your use of alcohol or other drugs
  • Learn about signs and symptoms that indicate unhealthy use
  • Identify steps to reduce risks associated with substances
  • Connect with students in recovery from substance use
  • Learn about campus and community resources.

Self-Guided Evaluation

Take a self-guided look at your drinking with the E-Check Up to Go for Alcohol, a brief and anonymous online program that provides personalized information on your alcohol use, risk patterns, and how your drinking might affect your health, relationships, academics and life goals. It provides helpful resources at UWM and in the community. If you would like to talk about your results with someone, contact

Screening and Intervention

Brief Alcohol and other drug Screening & Intervention for College Students (BASICS) offers students an opportunity to explore their use of alcohol, marijuana or other drugs in a confidential and non-judgmental setting with a Health Promotion & Advocacy staff member. During two sessions in an individual or group format, students can:

  • Recognize patterns in their drinking or other drug use
  • Discuss personalized feedback on individual risk factors
  • Explore options to reduce risks for harm and make a plan for change
  • Learn about additional support on and off-campus

Want fewer downsides of drinking or using? Schedule your session today! 

Request a Program

Drinking/Drug Culture Close-Up can help your student group, team or living-learning community openly discuss all perspectives, attitudes and impacts of drinking or other drug use among members. The program opens the door for a peer-to-peer conversation about the group’s drinking or drug culture, and if and how to best adjust it on an individual and group level. An anonymous online survey completed by group members gets the discussion going. You might be surprised by what your peers have to say!

Gain Freedom from Nicotine

Help with Quitting or Cutting Back on Vaping/Smoking is available for students who want freedom from nicotine. We’re here to help every step of the way with support, tools and tips. Whether this is your first attempt at change or your fifth, the important thing is to keep trying. Read more…

Peer Support Network

Panther Recovery Community provides students in recovery from addiction a safe, sober and social peer support network as they pursue academic, professional and personal goals and walk the path of recovery. Students in recovery, those struggling with substance use, as well as allies of those seeking freedom from addiction are welcome. For information about the next Club Soda gathering, contact the Campus Alcohol & Other Drug Coordinator or email

Short-term Counseling

Evaluation & Treatment through Student Health and Wellness Counseling Services include short-term counseling for students desiring treatment of an identified substance use problem. Referrals to community resources are provided for students with substance use disorders that require more intensive services.

Online Programs

Alcohol Wise and Cannabis Wise are a required online alcohol and other drug education programs for UWM freshmen and transfer students under the age of 21.

Alcohol Wise and Cannabis Wise promote learning and consideration of substance use issues for the safety and well-being of oneself and fellow Panthers. The programs support students in making well-informed decisions that promote health, safety, academic performance. Instructions for how to access the programs and deadlines for completion are emailed to students’ UWM email accounts. For more information, email

Visit our Resources section for additional information, online self-assessment tools, treatment locators and much more.

Care for Others

Whether you worry about a friend’s substance use or witness an emergency at a party full of strangers, we can prepare you to choose to respond in caring ways that positively influence the outcome.

You Can Help! Prevent Overdose

To learn more about how to help in an overdose situation, participate in You Can Help! Prevent Overdose, a bystander intervention training that encourages students to help others in unsafe alcohol- or other drug-related situations. Participants learn important information and process realistic situations to enhance the skills, confidence and empathy necessary to respond quickly and effectively when someone may be overdosing. Find out more.

Narcan at UWM

UWM has partnered with Wisconsin Voices for Recovery to provide free access to naloxone/Narcan (a safe medication that can reverse an opioid overdose) to members of the community. Nalox-ZONE boxes have been installed across UWM campuses. Training on how to administer Narcan, while not required, will be offered to students, faculty and staff. For more information visit Narcan at UWM.

Don’t Let Getting in Trouble Keep You from Calling for Help

UWM’s Drug, Alcohol & Sexual Assault Victim Assistance Policy is in place so that fear of disciplinary consequences does not keep students from calling for help in unsafe situations involving alcohol or other drugs. Students who actively seek assistance from police or UWM staff for someone (including self) who is overly intoxicated and who cooperate with police and UWM staff will not face university discipline or UWM Police citations for underage drinking or drug use.

Worried about a Friend?

Are you concerned about a friend’s drinking or drug use? While most college students are not at the point of being addicted to alcohol or other drugs, some may still display behaviors that cause those close to them to worry about their substance use.

Behaviors of concern may include:

  • Continued use despite repeatedly experiencing problems as a result, such as fights or arguments with family or friends; interference with school, work, and other important responsibilities; or taking risks or getting seriously injured while under the influence
  • Tendency to avoid events where substances will not be readily available, or to “pre-game,” or consume quantities of alcohol or other drugs, before attending these events
  • Increased tolerance and difficulty cutting down or controlling level of use

If you are worried about a friend’s substance use, express your observations and concerns in an open and nonjudgmental manner and offer to help your friend connect with available resources. Contact the Alcohol & Other Drug Coordinator if you’d like some additional guidance.

Make Good Decisions

The Make Good Decisions page offers basic information on alcohol and other drugs and harm reduction strategies. With a strong foundation of evidence-based prevention strategies, education, and support, UWM fosters a community where students can make healthy, informed decisions and care for one another to prevent alcohol and other drug-related harm to themselves and their peers.

The Basics: What you should know about using alcohol or other drugs

Not using alcohol or other drugs is the healthiest and safest choice. If you choose to drink or use, it is important to be aware of the wide range of effects that substances can have on your judgment, behavior, and physical and mental health, and to consider strategies to lower the risks for harm to yourself and others.

  • More alcohol does not equal a better buzz! While small amounts of alcohol can make you feel “buzzed,” it is a depressant that will cause you to feel more sluggish, tired, and uncoordinated with each additional drink.
  • As a depressant, alcohol inhibits your:
    • Central nervous system – impairing judgment and coordination
    • Respiratory system – impairing breathing
    • Gag reflex – making it possible for you to choke on your own vomit
    • Ability to form memories – causing “blackouts,” or alcohol-induced memory loss
  • Loss of consciousness, or “passing out,” and death may also occur.
  • Your level of intoxication is affected by:
    • How much alcohol is consumed
    • How quickly you drink
    • Weight
    • Biological sex
    • Hormone levels
    • Presence of food in the stomach
    • Stress or fatigue levels
    • Whether or not you have taken medications or other drugs
  • Sobering up takes time – nothing you can do can speed up this process.
Other Drugs
  • Illicit (or “street”) drugs and prescription medications – including stimulants, depressants, hallucinogens, and narcotics – impact your breathing, blood pressure, and heart rate and can also cause confusion, distorted perceptions, altered reaction times, loss of coordination, and/or irrational behavior.
  • As illegal substances, street drugs are unregulated and therefore there is no way of knowing exactly what you are putting in your body. This can result in unpredictable effects with each use.
  • Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is 50 times stronger than heroin, is the primary cause of fatal and non-fatal overdose in the US. A tiny dose the size of a grain of salt can stop breathing. Counterfeit prescription pills that are made to look just like legitimate prescription pills and street drugs (like cocaine, Ecstasy, meth, heroin and even marijuana) can be laced with fentanyl without your knowing.
  • Prescription medications are not a safer alternative to street drugs. When used without the guidance and oversight of a medical professional, the potential for harm may equal that of illicit substances.
Polysubstance Use
  • Taking more than one drug at a time increases the risk of harmful effects, including damage to organs, overdose and death.
  • Illicit drugs and prescription or over-the-counter medications can intensify or mask the effects of alcohol, thereby greatly increasing the risk for accidental overdose and death.
  • If you are taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, pay attention to the warning labels and consult your health care provider or pharmacist about the potential for harmful interaction effects if taken with alcohol or other drugs. In addition, alcohol or other drugs may reduce the effectiveness of the prescription medication.
Other Potential Consequences of Substance Use
  • Impaired judgment may lead to regrettable or dangerous situations.
    • – Illness or injury
    • – Legal trouble
    • – Academic problems
    • – Regretted actions
    • – High-risk sexual activity
    • – Violence
  • Tickets for underage drinking, using a fake id, hosting an illegal tavern (i.e. charging for drinks, cups, or entry to your party), possessing drugs or drug paraphernalia, and other related charges are costly, and may affect your future. Prior convictions can cause loss of financial aid and may lead to lifelong difficulties renting a home and landing a job.
  • Harm from heavy drinking or other drug use affects the wider community, not just those who choose to use. Students report disturbances to their quality of life due to the behaviors of peers who are under the influence, such as:
    • – Personal property damage
    • – Being awakened or kept from studying
    • – Being made to feel unsafe

Safer Strategies

Campus survey data shows that many UWM students choose not to drink and most currently do not use cannabis or other drugs. Not using is a healthy, optimal choice. Risks are inherent in alcohol or other drug use, and students who choose to use are encouraged to adopt strategies to lower the chances for harm to health, relationships, academics, personal safety, or the safety of others. Some strategies include:

  • Take a break and use less often.
  • Set limits before you drink. Lower risk guidelines for females are no more than 3 drinks per occasion and no more than 7 drinks per week. Lower risk guidelines for males are no more than 4 drinks per occasion and no more than 14 drinks per week.
  • Pace at about 1 drink per hour. Sip instead of slam and alternate between nonalcoholic and alcoholic drinks.
  • Eat a substantial meal before drinking.
  • Choose cannabis products with a lower THC content and only purchase cannabis from a licensed dispensary.
  • Only use pills as prescribed for you by a medical professional and purchased from a licensed pharmacy. Never use pills from a friend, stranger, social media/internet.
  • Plan ahead so that you will not be driving after drinking/using or riding in a car with a driver who has been drinking/using.
  • Avoid mixing substances, including alcohol, other drugs, prescription and some over-the-counter medications.
  • Only drink or use when others are around so they can help if you need it.
  • Use a test strip on street drugs to check for the presence of fentanyl, a powerful and dangerous synthetic opioid that is put into drugs, often without the user’s knowledge, and can cause a person to overdose.
  • If you or friends use opioids or other drugs, carry Narcan, a safe medication that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.
  • Learn how to recognize and respond in an emergency situation – you could save a life.
  • Avoid the use of substances as a way to “cope” or to avoid issues in your life that may be causing you worry or distress. Find healthy self-care strategies and consider seeking help.
  • Reach out for help if you are struggling with alcohol or other drug use. Help is available and people can and do get better.

How to Recognize and Respond to an Alcohol or Other Drug Overdose

An overdose happens when the body is overwhelmed by too much of a substance or a combination of substances. It is possible to overdose on alcohol, other drugs and prescription medications. An overdose can result in serious health effects and death.

Signs of Alcohol or Drug Overdose

Signs of an overdose vary depending on the type of substance used and whether a person mixed substances. Signs may include:

  • Person is unresponsive and cannot be woken
  • Breathing is slow, weak or absent (normal respiration is 12-20 breaths/minute)
  • Skin is cool and sweaty (clammy) or hot and dry
  • Pale or ashen skin
  • Blue or purple lips or nails
  • Choking or snore-like gurgling sounds
  • Slow, erratic or undetectable pulse
  • Excessive vomiting
  • Small, ‘pinpoint’ pupils
  • Seizure

What to Do

It may be hard to tell whether a person is experiencing an overdose. If you aren’t sure, treat it like an overdose—you could save a life.

  • Call 911 (or 414-229-9911 from on-campus)
  • If you suspect an opioid overdose, administer naloxone, if available*
  • Try to keep the person awake and breathing
  • Lay the person on their side to prevent choking in case of vomiting
  • If no response within 2-3 minutes, give another dose of naloxone
  • Stay with the person until emergency responders arrive

*Naloxone/NARCAN is a safe medication that can reverse the effects of opioid overdose.

Don’t Let Fear of Getting in Trouble Prevent You from Getting Help

Students who actively seek assistance from police or UWM staff for someone (including self) who is overly intoxicated/impaired due to alcohol or other drugs, stay on the scene and cooperate with police and UWM staff will not face university discipline or UWM Police citations for underage alcohol and/or other drug use.
Remember to CALL, STAY and COOPERATE.