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Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse

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The First Five Weeks:  Prevention Messages for New Students

Most new students arrive on campus feeling anxious, hopeful, curious, lonesome, excited, and scared. Most are looking for ways to fit in, have fun, meet people, and achieve their goals. Many arrive on campus with the idea that college life and party life are synonyms.

Researchers suggest that a student's first five or six weeks in college are important to his or her overall success. Initial choices about alcohol use in those first few weeks can impact an entire college career.

While there is no magic wand to protect all incoming students from adverse consequences related to chemical use, there are messages that tend to minimize such problems. Delivery of these messages will sometimes involve spoken words, but more often, it will involve actions and example.

Faculty, coaches, work-study supervisors, resident hall assistants, student development personnel, club advisors, librarians, and other campus personnel can all be instrumental in delivering some of the following prevention messages:

  • Most college students do not make high-risk drinking choices.
  • This is a community where individuals are responsible for their choices and accountable for their actions.
  • Viterbo has high expectations for students on academic, behavioral, ethical, and social fronts.
  • People genuinely care about each other here.
  • There are lots of ways to have fun and meet people in our community.
  • Friday is a workday.
  • Drunkenness is not tolerated, condoned, written off as a "stage," or treated as a joke.
  • Underage drinking is illegal.
  • The reality is that college is hard, stressful, and a lot of work. It's worth the struggle, but it is sometimes difficult.
  • If someone has biological relatives who have struggled with alcohol problems, it is especially important to make low-risk choices.
  • There are campus and community services to help students through tough times.
  • There are meaningful roles for students on this campus.
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