Quick Help Guides Alcohol
What is Alcohol Misuse?
Alcohol misuse is when you drink in a way that's harmful, or when you're dependent on alcohol. Dependent might mean you need alcohol to be social, have fun, or cope with anxiety or depression. Alcohol is the drug of choice among young adults. As a result, underage drinking is a leading public health problem.
- Nationally, 51% of high-risk college drinkers reported doing something they later regretted, 47% said they missed a class, and 41% forgot where they were or what they did.
- Drinking affects non-drinkers as well. A nationwide survey found that 60% of students had their studying or sleeping interrupted because of another student’s drinking.
- According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, an estimated 1,400 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related incidents each year.
- Alcohol consumption significantly reduces academic performance for all students, including high-performing students. As a result, future economic potential is compromised.
- Drinking underage and/or binge drinking.
- Needing greater quantities of alcohol to achieve the desired effects
- Attempts to stop or limit drinking are unsuccessful
- Extensive amount of time needed to recover from the effects of alcohol.
- Spending lots of time thinking about the next drink.
- Drinking alone or trying to hide one's drinking patterns.
- Displaying denial or anger when questioned about one’s drinking patterns.
- Acting as if drinking is more important than one's friends and family; isolating oneself from one's social support system.
- Becoming anxious or stressed if a social gathering does not include alcohol.
- Continuing to drink regardless of the negative physical or psychological difficulties.
- Drinking frequently or in excess, which may include blackouts when drinking.
- Making excuses to continue to drink and/or drinking at unacceptable times or places.
Taking Care of Yourself
- Be honest with yourself about your drinking.
- Find something more than willpower to motivate you, like your faith, values, or goals in life. - When trying to break a habit, a lot of people think that simply telling themselves to behave differently will be enough.
- Don’t ignore cravings - Cravings tend to only last 15 minutes or less, but ignoring them won’t make them go away. Mindfulness techniques or even a good distraction can be really helpful in getting through those 15 minutes. Find one that works for you.
- If you drink to help with social anxiety, it’s time to come up with a new strategy. Social anxiety is very common, and there are many other more effective ways to manage it.
- Come up with strategies to avoid social pressure when out. When offered alcohol, offer to be the designated driver, blame your lack of drinking on needing to study tomorrow, or own that you are reducing your alcohol use.
- Plan for alcohol-free alternatives – Sometimes having a drink in your hand at a party makes you feel comfortable, like you have something to do with your hands. The drink doesn’t have to be alcohol. It can be water, soda, etc.
- Remind yourself of the benefits of avoiding alcohol use.
How to Help a Friend
- If you have concerns about a friend’s drinking, talk to them about it:
- Be non-judgmental. This is the most important step.
- Bring it up when they are sober
- Avoid generalizations - only talk about your experience with your friend’s behavior. Don’t say, “Everyone thinks that you have a problem,” or “All of us are worried.”
- Avoid accusatory language - Try to use “I” statements such as “I noticed” or “I am worried.” Use phrases such as “This is where I’m coming from,” or “This is how I’m feeling,” or “I am worried.
- Reinforce how much you care about the individual:
- Bring up specific examples
- Offer to help them with steps to help, such as reaching out to CAPS.
What if these suggestions don’t work?
The Student Life Office and Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) can help you get in touch with specialized help on or off campus. Individual counseling is available on campus in addition to support offered by staff in Campus Pastor’s office, Student Life and Residence Life.
If you need immediate assistance, please call 911, the On Call RD at (805) 565-6273 or Westmont Public Safety at (805) 565-6222.
On- and Off-Campus Support
Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) - westmont.edu/caps - (805) 565-6003
Campus Pastor’s Office: Clark B Cottage - (805) 565-6170
Your RA / RDs or Spiritual Formation Coordinator
In an emergency, call the On-Call RD at 805 565 6273
In a life threatening emergency, call 911
1 Corinthians 6:19-20