Alcohol & Drug Abuse

What is Substance Abuse?

Simply put, substance abuse is the repeated use of alcohol and/or other drugs accompanied by a failure to fulfill one's major responsibilities related to school, work, friends, family or other roles and/or repeated use in situations that are physically hazardous; and/or repeated legal problems.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Substance Abuse?

If you notice unexplained changes in the physical appearance or behavior of a friend or family member, it may be a sign of substance abuse. However, you may not know definitively until a professional does an assessment.

What Are Some Physical Signs?

  • Change in sleeping patterns
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Slurred or agitated speech
  • Sudden or dramatic weight loss or gain
  • Skin abrasions/bruises
  • Neglected appearance/poor hygiene
  • More frequent illness
  • Accidents or injuries

What Are Some Behavioral Signs?

  • Hiding use; lying and covering up
  • Sense that the person will "do anything" to use again regardless of consequences
  • Drug-seeking behavior
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Emotional instability
  • Hyperactive or hyper-aggressive
  • Depression
  • Missing school or work and/or failure to fulfill responsibilities at school or work
  • Complaints from teachers or co-workers
  • Reports of intoxication at school or work
  • Furtive or secretive behavior
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Locked doors
  • Going out every night
  • Change in friends or peer group
  • Change in clothing or appearance
  • Unusual smells on clothing or breath
  • Heavy use of over-the-counter preparations to reduce eye reddening, nasal irritation, or bad breath
  • Hidden stashes of alcohol
  • Stealing money, valuables, drugs or alcohol from friends and family

Recommended Treatment

There are two models for treating substance abuse here at Fairfield University.

Harm Reduction
This pragmatic approach focuses on psycho-educational strategies to help students define and limit their substance use. Students learn skills that help them avoid over-use and potential overdose.

The abstinence-based approach sets as a goal complete abstinence from all addictive substances, including alcohol, illegal drugs and prescription medications.

Intensive Outpatient or Inpatient Treatment
Sometimes a student's level of dependence on a particular substance requires a higher level of care than can be provided in a university setting. When this occurs, appropriate referrals to intensive outpatient or inpatient facilities are made.

Helpful Websites

For more information or an appointment, call  Counseling & Psychological Services
(203) 254-4000 ext. 2146

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