Counseling & Psychological Services
Prevention and Education
Alcohol & Other Drugs
Welcome! This page provides information about my role as the Alcohol and Other Drug Education and Prevention Coordinator (or “AOD Coordinator” for short). Working out of the Division of Student Life, my overall mission is to help students learn, develop, and grow on their pathway to success. I do this by coordinating programs and services that provide education on the topics of drugs and alcohol. These projects reduce the likelihood that drugs and alcohol will have a negative impact on your ability to learn and function while you attend IUPUI. I also help develop procedures that identify and assist students who are at risk for drug and alcohol abuse.
You’ll see me around campus providing information, giving presentations to student groups, providing screening and referral opportunities, and connecting students to the right resources to help them get the most out of college. Aside from serving as a campus resource, it’s my job to periodically check the campus’ vital signs when it comes to drugs and alcohol. To do this, I administer surveys, evaluate health and wellness programs, and get feedback from students, faculty, and staff. For alcohol and drug topics, I like to think I have my hand on the pulse of the campus community.
My professional philosophy is a risk reduction / harms reduction approach to alcohol and other drug education and prevention. While abstinence is the lowest-risk option, any action to reduce the intensity, duration, or frequency of harmful behaviors is a step in the right direction!
Eric Teske, Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention and Education Coordinator
Check out the information below!
Beyond “Be Responsible”
“Be responsible,” “Know your limits,” “Make good decisions.” When it comes to alcohol, you’ve probably heard statements like these from your parents, professors, and friends. So there you have it, problem solved! Just make good decisions and you should be all set. Thanks for the great advice!
If you haven’t picked up on my sarcasm (I was laying it on pretty thick), I personally find these kinds of statements incredibly unhelpful. What I think they really mean is something along the lines of, “there are inherent risks associated with the decision to drink alcohol, and many of the unanticipated consequences could have a negative impact on your health, grades, and future well-being, so take the time to learn about the risks and make a conscious decision about the kinds of behaviors you are going to engage in so you can reduce the chances that you will get hurt or do something you regret.”
Granted, this takes a lot longer to say to someone on their way out the door – so instead of waiting for someone to offer vague last-minute advice, take control by educating yourself on the topic. Think of yourself as the Risk Management department in the company of your life, and get specific by following concrete guidelines.
Risk Management for YOU, INC.
Your reputation is your brand. In the company of your life, you need to be your own Risk Management department. If you notice a drop in productivity, or want to keep the CEO out of jail (that’s you as well, it’s a very small company), you’ll need to put in place restrictions based on the best available data and model the operations of other successful entities.
Ok, this business metaphor is getting a bit tired. My point is that deciding on standards ahead of time (while you’re thinking clearly) will make it easier to follow-through. Plan ahead by getting a designated driver, or decide not to exceed a certain number of drinks for the night. What techniques do others use? A recent survey of over 28,000 college students produced a list of the most frequently used risk-reduction techniques.
College students who drink reported doing the following most of the time or always when they partied or socialized during the last 12 months:
- 85% Use a designated driver
- 85% Stay with the same group of friends the entire time drinking
- 79% Eat before and/or during drinking
- 67% Keep track of how many drinks they consume
The best way to reduce your risk is to not drink, or to drink less. In the same survey, 59% of drinkers reported having 4 or fewer drinks the last time they went out. If you include the people who had zero, that number goes up to 72% of students who stayed under 5 drinks.
Does that number sound high? Perception and reality rarely match up when it comes to guessing how much people drink, and there are several reasons why.
Perception vs. Reality
There is a perception that alcohol abuse is just part of the college experience. While there is usually a small group of students drinking to excess, the typical student doesn’t come to school to party.
This false perception shows up in survey data. The majority of students assumed that a typical student drinks more than 10 days a month and usually has more than 5 drinks. In fact, 13% assumed the typical student drinks every single day!
In reality, 71% of students drink 5 or fewer days per month, and have an average of 3 drinks each time. Only around 1% of students report drinking daily (certainly not the “typical student”).
Where does this inflated perception come from? Why do people assume the typical college student is getting drunk so often? It could be the depiction of college drinking in movies, the abundance of alcohol commercials and advertisements, or “epic” stories about your roommate’s friend’s cousin that spread like wildfire.
While alcohol abuse in college is still a serious hazard for the students who are taking it too far, the truth is a majority of students are using alcohol in a pretty sensible way. Where do you fit in? Take this online self-assessment to find out.
Biphasic Effects of Alcohol
If a little alcohol makes you feel good, then a lot of alcohol should make you feel even better, right? Not so fast. Experts have known for years that the stimulating buzz you feel when you start drinking is followed by depressant-like sedative effects as blood alcohol concentration rises. This biphasic (or two part) effect reaches the tipping point at BAC .055, after which the addition of more alcohol pushes you more toward the sedative side of the curve. More isn’t always better. If you drink too much or too quickly, you’ll shoot right past the optimal “feel good” point.
For more, go to our information page on alcohol and other drugs.
The Party Placebo
60 college students signed up for what they were told was a study on socializing behavior. They were given free beer, and soon everyone was getting to know each other, acting goofy, slurring their words, telling stupid jokes, and laughing along.
What’s the twist? Of the 60 students, only 15 had alcoholic beer. The remaining 45 participants were actually stone sober, but nobody could tell them apart from the ones who had been drinking. Everyone felt sure that they had been one of the students who had the alcoholic beer.
So how did this happen? Aside from the real chemical effects of alcohol, the expectations of how you think you’ll feel when you’re drinking go a long way in determining your behavior. If you expect to feel high and buzzed on beer, your body will act accordingly. This is known as the placebo effect, when your expectations produce a response in the absence of any active drug being in your system.
Aside from pranking your friends by buying non-alcoholic beer (as in this Princeton Non-Alcoholic Keg Party video), this also demonstrates that it’s not the amount of alcohol in your veins that determines whether or not you have a good time. And because of the Biphasic Effect of Alcohol, we already know that drinking more doesn’t necessarily correspond with a better buzz.
Forget What You Know About Peer Pressure
When I was in middle school my teachers told me my friends would try to blackmail me into drinking. They called it “peer pressure” and told me to beware the horrible consequences. “Drink this beer or I won’t be friends with you.” I waited for my friends to hold our friendship hostage in exchange for getting me hopelessly addicted to alcohol. But it never happened. What gives?
In real life, peer pressure is sneaky. It’s nothing as obvious as an ultimatum, a bribe, or an older kid in a leather jacket. Studies in psychology reveal that we have a strong subconscious desire to fit in, to seek social approval, and to mirror the behavior of people with high social status. Peer pressure isn’t a fork in the road, it’s a tide gently pulling you and everyone around you toward the most influential group. Peer pressure isn’t your friends out to get you, it’s falling asleep on a raft and waking up a mile from shore – sometimes you don’t even notice the change until you look back to where you started.
When it comes to alcohol, things get a little trickier. Social desirability isn’t only based on majority rules – if that were the case, high risk drinkers would feel the pressure to cut back in order to match the vast majority of students who drink more sensibly. Furthermore, because students tend to over-estimate the amount the typical student drinks (See: Perception vs. Reality), there is a social pressure to drink more in order to fit into this imaginary majority of heavy drinkers. Combine this false perception with the alcohol industry’s multi-billion dollar marketing campaign and it’s easy to see just how strong this invisible force can be.
When I Grow Up...
College isn’t what it used to be a few decades ago. Before, a bachelor’s degree all but guaranteed a high-paying career in a blossoming job market. Nowadays, if you don’t already have two years internship experience, a publication, and a list of extracurricular activities, you’ll be playing catch-up once you graduate.
You’re expected to develop quickly in college, and to pick up important career and life skills in a short amount of time. But any skill takes practice, and much of college is devoted to giving you the opportunity to practice in a safe environment that mirrors the demands of the rest of the world. I avoid calling the world outside IUPUI the “real world” because you are already in the real world. Nothing magical happens when you receive your diploma. You will not wake up one day having become someone you have not been becoming. Because of this, it is extremely important to develop responsible habits involving alcohol.
Picture yourself in your future job, living the life you dreamed about when you first applied to college. How does alcohol fit into the picture? How does alcohol fit into your life right now? If the two patterns are very different, realize that your behavior will not suddenly change at the flip of a switch when you graduate. Spend time practicing the kind of behavior you picture for yourself in your future job, with your future family.