By: Diane Geyer, Coordinator of Clinical Substance Use Services
College is a time of transition and for many students it is the first time they have lived independently from their parents.
This new-found freedom is exciting and sometimes can be overwhelming. It’s now up to the student to make choices about their academics, homework, social network and their future.
At college there are many opportunities to meet new people and different ways to socialize.
Some students will use alcohol occasionally and will not incur a problem. While others may not even partake in the use of substances or alcohol during college.
Some students will use alcohol and or other substances as a way to meet people. Some use alcohol at sporting events, for fun, celebration, to fit in, to impress, connect, and belong to a certain group or meet new people.
While others, may use alcohol or other substances seeking relief from stress, depression or trying to forget about personal problems. No matter whether the use of a substance is for social or emotional reasons, it’s important to note it’s not about the reasons why a person uses substance, it’s about the quantity and frequency of ones use. What may begin as one drink may become two, once a week, then twice a week and two drinks may become three and then four.
When a substance is consumed repeatedly over time the brain and the body develop tolerance.
Frequent and increased use greatly increases the chance of developing a substance use disorder.
There are many factors involved in the development of a substance use disorder. And no one ever expects to develop a problem with alcohol or other substances. It’s true there can be biological factors that increase an individual’s risk, but biology does not determine certainty, it just signifies vulnerability.
Understanding this vulnerability, and making different choices can help prevent a
substance use disorder.
The good news is the University of Southern Maine has a tool to help. This web based program ScreenU can be found on the University of Southern Maine’s Health and Counseling website.
This program was purchased from the Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Drug Misuse Prevention (HEC) and Recovery at Ohio State University. Participation in the program is completely anonymous.
It is being used by all traditional and nontraditional students (faculty and staff) in academic
institutions across the country to help participants learn their about their level of risk and prevent substance use problems.
The self-assessment is interactive and can be completed in less than 10
minutes. If you are concerned for yourself, a friend or just curious you can participate in one of the three screenings: ScreenU Alcohol, ScreenU Marijuana, and ScreenU Rx
No one wants to develop a substance use problem at any time in their lives. Choose to know.
For more information concerning substance misuse, contact Diane Geyer, LCPC, LADC, CCS at University Health and Counseling 207-780-4050 or visit our Substance Misuse Prevention page on the
University Health and Counseling site.