Why use alcohol and other drugs?

How do alcohol and other drugs affect you?

What are some ways of avoiding trouble?

When does use become a problem?

What can you do when there is a problem?


The Internet will never replace the college campus. Despite the growing popularity of distance education, traditional colleges are in no danger of extinction. How can we make such a dramatic statement in the face of the current trend toward home-based learning? We are confident in the continuation of college campuses because we know that course-related learning is only one of many motivations that students have for paying tuition. Another important reason for going to college is the good times that undergraduates share. Having fun always has been and always will be part of the campus experience. For at least 80% of undergraduates, some of that fun involves alcohol or other drugs (AOD).

Just as it was true for the faculty who teach you, having fun and encountering AOD are part of today's undergraduate experience. And just as your professors did when they were undergraduates, you will decide your degree of involvement with AOD.

Recognizing that having fun is something you look forward to, it is also helpful to consider what your ultimate goal is with regard to attending college. If the sole reason for you going to school is to have fun, you will only have to pay tuition for one year. After that, the administration will most likely ask you to take your party elsewhere.

If you actually want to graduate, there must be balance in your life. You will need to include adequate amounts of study and work. As long as you and the administration are satisfied with your efforts, the fun aspect of college is likely to enhance your experience. But there will be temptations along the way, and too much fun seeking can lead to poor performance, or worse.

The decisions you make about AOD will have a major impact on the quality of your college years, as well as on your subsequent life. Millions of past and present college students know the truth of that statement. Since lots of research relating to AOD has been done, this web site includes some scientific information (as well as links to sites where you can get much more). But in producing this site, we also sought input from scores of students. As described in the Site Credits, undergraduates contribute to the site on an ongoing basis. Initially over 160 undergraduates made contributions, including 18 individuals who participated in detailed one-on-one interviews about their experiences with AOD. One of our interviewees told us to do the following.

"Put the material in a context that people can understand. Don't set out to scare them, but keep it real. Don't avoid things just because they are frightening. Let them relate the material to their own lives. Let them see their faces in what they read. Then they will think twice about going to a party to get drunk, or going to do drugs. They'll think 'This could happen to me. I don't want this to happen to me.'"

Another interviewee had similar thoughts.

"I believe that everyone has knowledge that can add to your well-being. If you can take a little piece of each person and add it to yourself, it can make you a better person. I think telling people's experiences is the way to go. In my mind I hear the people talking. To hear someone talk about their experiences - whether good or bad - is something that I can learn from. The reader needs to think, 'This person did that. This person lived through that.' Then you need to ask yourself, 'Do I want to live through that as well? Or do I want to take a smart route and go a different way?'"

A third student had this to say.

"If you tell kids 'Don't do this' it just makes them more apt to do it, especially college freshmen, because they want to live the college life and they want to do everything that's fun. They need to know that you can go out and have fun, and that you can be responsible. They need to know how to look out for their friends. They need to know that they can have fun without putting themselves in situations that will be harmful."

And finally, a fourth student made these comments.

"I think the material should present the facts. It shouldn't say do this or don't do that. It should say this is what happens, this is real life, these are the real stories that people had. Based on that, readers can decide for themselves what to do."

Like these four individuals, most of our interviewees expressed the opinion that "just saying no" was not likely to work. Instead, they said we should help readers make their own decisions by presenting information and by telling real stories.

We want you to meet these and other students we've encountered. So every chapter is written from the perspective of a different student - each one a composite of real undergraduates who told us about their lives. All of the stories, examples, and quotes at the site are true accounts from actual college students.

Chapter 1 takes a look at reasons students have for using AOD. The second chapter focuses on how AOD affect you. Chapter 3 describes ways of avoiding problems with AOD. The fourth chapter talks about how to know when alcohol or other drugs have become a problem. And the last chapter provides some ideas on what you can do when there is a problem.

Compared to typical web pages, the chapters at this site contain more information (Chapter 1 - 1,400 words, Chapter 2 - 2,800 words, Chapter 3 - 2,900 words, Chapter 4 - 7,400 words, Chapter 5 - 5,300 words). Consequently, covering one or two chapters at a time might be preferable to reading everything in one sitting.

Start of Introduction

Start of Chapter 1: Why use alcohol and other drugs?

These files may be downloaded solely for the personal, noncommercial use of individuals. If you use material from this site, be sure to include the following citation.

France, K. & Dourte, B. (1999-2016). Straight Talk on Alcohol and Other Drugs / a web site for college students [On-line]. Mechanicsburg, PA: France Associates.