Alcohol and Other Drugs

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 harmful use
  • Identify steps to reduce risks associated with substances
  • Connect with students in recovery from substance use
  • Learn about campus and community resources.

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 aodresources@uwm.edu.

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 & Wellness staff member. During two sessions in an individual or group format, students can:

  • Recognize patterns in their drinking or other drug use
  • Reflect on their use and its effect on school, relationships, health, goals and values
  • 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! 

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! Request this program here.

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…

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 Sober Social gathering, contact the Campus Alcohol & Other Drug Coordinator or email aodresources@uwm.edu.

Evaluation & Treatment through University Counseling Services include short-term counselling 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.

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 aodresources@uwm.edu.

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. Read more…

Worried about a Friend?
Are you concerned about a friend’s drinking or drug use? It can be hard to know what to say or do. It’s not your role to change someone, but you can approach things in such a way that they can look at things differently and consider getting help. Visit Resources for “How to Approach Someone Who’s Drinking/Drug Use is of Concern” and contact the Alcohol & Other Drug Coordinator if you’d like some additional guidance.

Recognize and Respond to an Overdose
For a quick read on how to recognize and respond in an alcohol or other drug overdose situation, go here. 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. More information and registration is here.

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.

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.

How Faculty & Staff Can Help

Substance use among college students impacts all aspects of University life, including student well-being, the educational environment, the quality of life on and around campus, and the reputation of the institution. Moreover, excessive drinking and drug use are associated with short-term academic problems (e.g., missing class, less time spent studying) and with degree completionReducing excessive and underage drinking and other drug use among students is a worthwhile and viable strategy for improving academic performance and retention. This can have a profound impact on the long-term success of our students.

Be Proactive

As a faculty or staff member at UWM, you are in a position to make a difference because you can positively influence students’ decisions about substance use in a variety of ways.

  1. Highlight the connection between academic success and substance use in conversations with students.
  2. Hold quizzes, exams, classes, deadlines, and office hours on Fridays to deter students from drinking or using earlier in the week.
  3. Make attendance part of the grade.
  4. Avoid normalizing substance use: avoid jokes or glorified stories about substance use.
  5. Don’t hold classes or meetings in a bar.
  6. Set expectations for your students. Include a statement in your syllabus regarding substance use (e.g. don’t come to class under the influence, no vaping in class).
  7. If you plan to be away (e.g. at a conference), invite a guest speaker on alcohol and other drugs, rather than cancelling the class.

Be Responsive

You may be in a position to notice potential warning signs of a drinking or drug use problem. You are not expected to diagnose, but you can share your concerns with the student and refer them to campus resources for support. Read more…

Recognize:

Recognize potential warning signs of substance use issues. Multiple signs and a pattern of behaviour may indicate a serious problem.

  • Deterioration in work/academic performance
  • Increased tardiness or absences
  • Multiple requests for extensions on assignments
  • Mood changes such as temper flare-ups, irritability, and defensiveness
  • Physical or mental indicators such as memory lapses, lack of personal hygiene, bloodshot eyes, lack of coordination or slurred speech
  • Disclosure, by a student, that there might be a drinking or drug problem

Respond:

It is important not to ignore the signs. You can present your concerns in such a way that they might see things more clearly and get the help they need.

  • Consult, if necessary, to determine whether you are the best person to approach the student and discuss a plan. A supervisor, department chair, the Campus AOD Coordinator or University Counseling Services are options.
  • Ask the student for permission to share a concern with them.
  • Describe in a specific and non-judgmental way, the behavior/signs that concern you. Frame your thoughts from a place of concern, and with the best interest of the student’s well-being and academic success in mind.
  • Invite the student to respond to your concerns by asking what they think.

Refer:

Have a few resources for the student to choose from, in case they’re ready to get help.

  • Make a referral to campus resources for Students located at the top of the page. <link to Support for Students section>.
  • Express and respect the student’s autonomy and right to decide.
  • Follow-up to see how things are going for the student and whether the referral was helpful.

Check out this brief Tips for More Effective AOD Conversations with students.