Skip to main content
Student Life

For Faculty

Assisting Students with Alcohol or Drug Problems: Information for Faculty and Staff

A significant number of college and graduate students at the University of Rhode Island drink alcohol. Most of these students' alcohol use can be defined as social drinking and does not prevent them from meeting their academic and social obligations.

A small percentage of URI students have patterns of alcohol use- or other drug use- that are cause for concern. Sudden or significant changes in academic performance or campus involvement are often the first indicators that a student may have a substance abuse problem.

For this reason, faculty and staff are sometimes the first to suspect that a student may have a drug or alcohol problem. Although we do not seek to convert faculty and staff members into diagnosticians, we do want to enable you to reach out in appropriate ways. At a minimum, all faculty members should support healthy norms on campus by communicating a firm expectation that students will focus on the purpose they are here, their academics.

A student abusing substances can change his or her situation, especially with help. The faculty and staff who work closely with students exert significant influence on them. Your expression of concern about a possible drug or alcohol problem may motivate a student to get the help needed.
Here are some common signs of substance abuse to look out for:

Academic/ Social Signs

  • Erratic performance
  • Poor attendance
  • Missed meetings
  • Missed exams or assignments
  • Repeated requests for extensions
  • Dropped courses
  • Withdrawal from commitments

Physical Signs

  • Marked weight change
  • Decline in personal cleanliness
  • Blood shot or dilated eyes
  • Smelling of alcohol or marijuana

Behavioral Signs

  • Inattentive, sleepy, or disruptive in class
  • Forgetful or unable to concentrate
  • Lethargic, confused, depressed
  • Restless, agitated, irritable

A student displaying one or more of these signs does not necessarily have an alcohol or drug problem. Still, such a student is more than likely experiencing some kind of difficulty and would benefit from support.

What Faculty/Staff Can Do?

Speak to the student directly about your concern. Focus on aspects of the student's academic performance, behavior, and appearance you have observed. Ask the student if discussing the situation with you would help. You will not make the situation worse by asking the question. By asking the students you are expressing concern for their well being.

Refer the student to the Office of Substance Abuse Prevention Services or the Counseling Center of Health Services. Assure the student that many students seek support from these offices at some point during their undergraduate education.

Consult with Dan Graney, the Director of Substance Abuse Prevention Services. He can give suggestions and tips on how to speak with students, as well as meet with the student. It is important to note that although the Office of Substance Abuse Prevention Services is a part of the Office of Student Life, we are not a part of the Office of Judicial Affairs. Students seeking services can be assured that any information that is shared will remain confidential.

If you have any questions or are concerned about a student please contact the Office of Substance Abuse Prevention Services Prevention Services at (401) 874-5073, or email Dan Graney at

Thank you for supporting our students!