Along with choosing a major, college offers other challenges. Deciding whether to use alcohol or drugs is one of them. Students indicate that they use alcohol and drugs for a variety of reasons including academic stress, socialization or to simply have fun. Many also use chemicals as a way to regulate uneasy feelings such as anxiety and depression while others drink or use drugs as a way to escape problems they are having.
Most people confine their use to specific places, times, and events and experience few, if any, negative consequences. However, for some, alcohol and drugs can lead to social, psychological and physical problems.
Even if you don't have a "problem" with alcohol or drugs hangovers, poor sleep and unhealthy eating combined with reduced study time can lead to academic nightmares. Use can also lead to other risky behaviors such as unprotected or unwanted sexual encounters and even physical aggression.
Q: How do I know if I am using too much?
A: Defining whether or not you have a problem with chemicals can be difficult at times. Some questions to ask yourself include:
If you answered yes to two or more of these questions, you may be experiencing difficulties with your chemical use. Further online screenings can be obtained at numerous sites such as at Alcohol Screening.org. If you are interested in exploring how your alcohol use compares to that of other college students, complete the e-CHUG assessment. All screenings are free of charge.
Q: How do I say no to alcohol or drugs effectively?
A: Learning to say “no” is what is referred to as developing refusal skills. These skills allow you to offer a reason when "no" is not enough. Refusal skills are best used before a situation becomes urgent and may require some rehearsal. Let those you are going or hanging out with know your intentions for the night before the time arrives. Examples of refusal skills include:
Remember to use assertive body language, a confident tone of voice, and hold your ground. If necessary remove yourself from the situation or event altogether. In any event do your best to, make a plan, rehearse the plan, and follow through with that plan.
Q: What if I want to reduce my use but not stop altogether.
A: Moderation Management is an organization that seeks to reduce the harm associated with alcohol use without striving for abstinence only. Moderation management stresses personal responsibility combined with behavioral changes such as alternating non-alcoholic with alcoholic drinks when out for the evening. Harm reduction theory accepts, for better or worse, that drug and alcohol use is a reality. The harm reduction model stresses individual behavioral changes, but also seeks to influence legal and political policies associated with illicit drugs.
Q: What if I am looking to abstain from chemical use altogether?
A: There are numerous organizations that seek to assist those interested in discontinuing chemicals and changing lifestyles. These organizations include:
Also, if you are living on campus you can choose to reside in one of ISU's substance free lifestyle floors.
Q: What if I want to talk face to face with someone about these issues or any other issues related to drug and alcohol use?
A: SCS counselors are trained to help students with questions or concerns about substance use. Counselors use a supportive approach striving to meet you where you are at. So whether your goal is to reduce or eliminate your use or you simply want to explore what your use means, you can make an appointment by calling 309-438-3655.
Q: Can an Illinois State student have a social life without drinking?
A: Yes! There are numerous chemical free events both on and off campus all the time, as well as campus organizations with an abundance of chemical free opportunities. Check out what’s happening both on and off campus on the Illinois State University Events Calendar.
Q: What if I am concerned about a friend, family member, or significant other's chemical use?
A: Helping someone else is not always easy. Having a friend, parent or partner who abuses alcohol or drugs can be scary and unsettling. If you're not sure what to do, there are many organizations that help those affected by another's chemical use. Al-Anon is an organization one can turn to if they are concerned about the chemical use of some they care about. Adult Children of Alcoholics and the Children of Alcoholics Foundation are organizations for those that have been affected by an alcoholic parent or caregiver. You can also make an appointment with us at the SCS to discuss how this is impacting your life and to sort through what you can do to take care of yourself.