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Signs of Trouble with Alcohol and/or Drugs
The following are some warning signs of trouble with alcohol or other drugs:
If you experience any of these signs, you are strongly encouraged to seek help from the Mental Health Center, Health and Wellness Programs, a Coordinator of Residence Education (CRE), a Graduate Assistant (GA), or seek help from other on- and off-campus resources listed below.
The Effects of Alcohol and/or Drug Abuse on the Community.
The majority of Gallaudet students do not engage in high-risk drinking activities. However, substance abuse by individuals or groups of students has a profound and negative impact on the entire community, including the majority of students who do not abuse alcohol or other drugs. Disruptions to the broader community, which result from substance abuse, include disturbances to the physical environment, interruptions of study or rest, physical violence, vandalism, and the imposition on others to care for those who are not able to care for themselves.
What You Can Do When Someone Else’s Drinking or Drug Use Bothers You.
Remember, it is reasonable to expect that other students respect your shared living space. If you feel you are not given this respect, it is your right to confront the situation. First, ask other people on your floor or off-campus living arrangement if they feel the same way you do about the situation. If you all agree that the drinker needs to be directly confronted with his or her problem, mention the problem to your Resident Advisor (RA), GA, or CRE. Request that your meeting be kept confidential (no one has to know who brought the situation to Residence Life’s attention). The RA, GA, or CRE can then intervene as appropriate or help you come up with a plan for confronting the student yourselves. If you live off-campus, get your roommates together and use the guide for “How to Help a Friend With a Drinking Problem” below. As a last resort, you can explore the options of moving to a different living situation.
How to Help a Friend with a Drinking Problem.
Get advice. Go to Health and Wellness Programs, the Mental Health Center, a CRE, a GA, or someone else you trust. You don’t have to give the name of the person you’re concerned about. Explaining your problem to a third party will help you figure out how to proceed.
Make sure your friend is sober. When it’s time to confront your friend, make sure he or she isn’t under the influence of alcohol. There may never be a perfect time to bring up such a tough subject, but the one time you don’t want to discuss it is while your friend is under the influence.
Prepare yourself. Realize that this is not going to be easy. Before you speak to your friend, develop a plan for how you’ll start helping. Find out about local A.A. meetings, counseling services offered by the Mental Health Center and other substance abuse counseling that’s available, and offer to go with your friend to a few meetings.
Keep it personal. Begin the conversation with your friend by letting him or her know you care, and that’s why you’re going to be upfront. Use your own feelings about the situation – “The way you act when you’re drinking worries me” – instead of, “You really have a problem with alcohol.” Specifically list the negative effects you’ve seen alcohol have on the person (you may want to write them down first), including missing class, memory loss, poor grades, isolation from family and friends, etc. Your friend will have a difficult time ignoring the hard evidence.
Expect denial. It won’t be easy getting your friend to admit they have a problem with alcohol. Remind your friend that while this is a problem that he or she has to overcome, there are still many great things that make your friend a valuable human being (you might want to list these too). The first talk you have with your friend about this problem probably won’t be the last. Don’t give up.
Follow through. Ultimately, it must be your friend’s choice to get help. Once that decision is made, show your support: Prove that you meant it when you said you’d attend A.A. meetings with him/her, or that you’d opt for hanging out with him/her instead of going to an off-campus party. For your part, you need to have patience and remind yourself you’re being a true and good friend.
Get help for yourself. It is common for people to feel overwhelmed and discouraged in the process of helping a friend. Visit the Mental Health Center, Health and Wellness Programs, or other people you trust and ask for help for yourself too.
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