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In an effort to support students and help them succeed at CU, we are committed to working with students to avoid pitfalls related to alcohol and drug use.

We offer a variety of trainings, presentations and classes specifically for students as well as trainings and workshops to help staff and faculty recognize high-risk use and refer students to appropriate resources.

For students who choose to drink or use other drugs, it’s important to know how to stay healthy, and that there is help available on campus if needed.

If you choose to use:

Alcohol

A large portion of CU students do not drink or use any other drugs at all, or they may only drink minimally or moderately. Some students may choose to drink to excess in ways that are problematic for them and those around them, or may develop a dependency that makes it difficult to stop. Still others fall somewhere else on the continuum, and may change their drinking habits during college.

If you choose to use alcohol, here's how to have a safer time:

  • Eat before drinking, and continue to eat food and drink water throughout the night.
  • Alternate drinks with water or other non-alcoholic drinks.
  • Set a limit before going out and stick to it.
  • Get home safe. Use the free CU NightRide, or a rideshare like Lyft or Uber.
  • Drink at your own pace; avoid trying to keep up with someone else.
  • Know how much is one serving of alcohol: 1.5 ounces of hard liquor, 5 ounces of wine and 12 ounces of beer.
  • Avoid mixing prescription drugs with alcohol. This is the most common cause of overdose.
  • Make a plan with friends before going out and stick to it. If plans need to change, talk about it as a group.
  • Know the signs of alcohol poisoning and how to put someone in the Recovery Position.

Prescription Drugs

If you choose to use prescription drugs, keep these things in mind:

  • Avoid mixing with alcohol: The most common cause of overdose is the combination of alcohol and prescription drugs. Combining alcohol with drugs can cause breathing and heartbeat to slow or even stop.
  • Tolerance varies from person to person: The same dose that might be safe for you could be too much for a friend. Talk with your friends about the signs to watch for in case of overdose. Have a plan for what to do if something goes wrong.
  • If you suspect overdose: Call 911. Emergency responders can provide immediate medical attention. If an opiate overdose is suspected, they can administer Naloxone, a drug that can reverse the effects and save lives. Naloxone/Narcan is available to anyone at select pharmacies without a prescription from a doctor. Click here for a list of local pharmacies.
  • Know the laws: It is a felony to take medication or pills in any form that are not prescribed in your name. It is a felony to give or sell prescription medication.

Marijuana

Marijuana and its active components (THC & CBD) exist in many forms and strengths and can affect people differently.

If you choose to use, consider these questions and information:

  • Do you know your limits? If you plan to use, consider when you’ll be using, where you’ll be, and who you’ll be with. The effects of marijuana can differ for each person and depend on how it’s used or consumed. If using edibles, follow the serving size and give your body up to two hours to react before using more. This can help reduce the likelihood of experiencing a bad high.
  • How does marijuana impact your relationships? While some people may feel more social after using marijuana, for others it can hinder communication, making it difficult to connect with other people. Marijuana can also make some people experience feelings of paranoia, which can get in the way of having a good time.
  • How will you know if your marijuana use is a problem or getting in the way of achieving your goals? Missing deadlines, chronic cough, memory problems, and failed attempts to cut down or stop can be signs of overuse. Marijuana, if used inappropriately, could result in university and/or federal sanctions, which may impact financial aid and scholarships and be visible to employers.

Know the laws

  • Marijuana possession and use is only legal in Colorado for adults 21 and over. Underage use is subject to an MIP ticket, fines, and CU sanctions.
  • It is illegal for anyone (regardless of age) to have or use marijuana on campus in any form, even with a prescription.
  • Being under the influence of marijuana is a violation of the CU drug policy and may result in student conduct sanctions and processes.
  • Driving high could land you with a DUI. Wait before getting behind the wheel: at least 3-5 hours after smoking or vaping and 6 hours after consuming edibles.
  • It’s illegal to take marijuana products out of the state. Additionally, Denver International Airport has banned the possession of marijuana products on its property.

For more information about the student code of conduct, visit The Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution.

Click here for more information about marjuana in Colorado.

As students transition to college, they will learn how to navigate a new environment that may include alcohol or other drugs. In addressing alcohol and drug use, we focus on ways to reduce the harmful outcomes of substance use on academics and personal life. We want to provide students with the information they need to understand the impacts these substances have on their body and learn skills they can use to look out for themselves and one another.

How much is one drink?

This campaign is designed to help students have a better understanding of how much alcohol constitutes one drink. Research suggests that when students know how much is in their cup, it reduces the likelihood of drinking too much.

How much is one drink campaign

Recovery Position

Putting someone in the recovery position can be critical in an emergency. This campaign is designed to educate on the signs of an alcohol or drug-related emergency and how to put someone in the recovery position.

Recovery position

Click here to view a video on how to put someone in the recovery position.

Impacts of Marijuana

This card is designed to provide information about the impacts marijuana can have as well as the CU, state and federal policies.

Marijuana card front   Marijuana laws card

Alcohol and Other Drugs Bulletin Board

This campaign is designed to educate students on harm reduction techniques, how to help a friend, campus policies, laws and more.

Click here to view the a PDF of the bulletin board.

Trainings

How to Save a Life

This training covers how to recognize and respond to an alcohol and opioid emergency. It is open to students, staff and faculty.

Click here to view the How to Save a Life training schedule.

Supporting Student Resiliency

The Supporting Student Resiliency Professional Development Series provides CU faculty and staff with concrete skills to better support students. Offered by several departments in the division of Student Affairs, sessions focus on areas critical to student retention and success. Faculty and staff can attend any individual session; those attending all six will receive a non-degree certificate.

Click here for the Supporting Student Resiliency schedule.

Presentations

The National College Health Assessment (NCHA) survey identified stress, getting sick, sleep, anxiety, depression, internet use, relationships, ADHD and alcohol and other drug use as the top health issues impacting CU students.  

Health Promotion offers free programs to residence halls and student groups. These include:

PartySmart

A conversation about party culture at CU and ways to have a better time and look out for one another.

Sleep to Learn

A workshop exploring the link between sleep, health and academics. This session also includes strategies for more restorative sleep.

Stress(Less) Programs

A range of options to help students stress less.

For more information visit the Health Promotion website.

Family members are crucial partners in the academic success of their student. It’s important to have an open and ongoing dialogue with your student about important issues, especially when they may be exposed to new situations involving alcohol and drugs. During their time at college, students may choose to experiment with alcohol and drugs for a variety of reasons or they may be impacted by someone else’s decision to experiment. 

Approaching the topic of substance use and having a non-judgmental conversation with your student can help when it comes to the choices they make and knowing when to seek help.  Here are some communication tips to consider –

  • Listen – Allow your student to share without interrupting or judging.  The more your student feels heard and unjudged, the more likely you are to have ongoing and open communication about this and other difficult topics. 
  • Anticipate questions – Students may choose to experiment with drugs and alcohol for a variety of reasons – peer pressure, to socialize, to relax, boredom, etc. Consider these reasons when anticipating your conversation and alternative activities to suggest for your student. Additionally, if you’re asking your student questions about alcohol and drug use, there’s a good chance they will ask you about your experiences with alcohol and drugs.  Anticipate these questions and consider sharing your own experiences and what you’ve learned from them.
  • Emphasize common goals – If your student becomes defensive or feels like they’re getting a lecture, remind them that you want to help them be prepared for situations they may face. Focus the conversation on the common goals you both share around this topic - you both want your student to be healthy, safe and successful at CU.

The following offices offer consultation services for parents and families:

Students may choose to experiment with alcohol and other drugs for a variety of reasons.  Approaching the topics of substance use and having a conversation with students can help when it comes to the choices they make and knowing when to get help in an emergency.  Health Promotion offers presentation and trainings to support

Explore the upsides and downsides of substance use

By exploring the good aspects first, we lower a student’s resistance to having a conversation about substance use. Ask them what they like about drinking, using marijuana, etc., and what positive aspects matter most to them. Next, explore the not-so-good things; this allows students to name for themselves the reasons they may want to consider a change in their use.

Approaching the conversation

There are a few things we can do during a conversation to make the student feel more comfortable:

  • Meet students where they are at. If a person isn’t open to having the conversation, don’t push it and just let it be.
  • Talk to a student when they are free of distractions.
  • Don’t make assumptions.
  • Avoid labeling or normalizing behavior.
  • Express concern, not judgment.
  • Remain calm, empathetic and understanding.
  • Explore how the downsides of substance use might be negatively impacting the student’s goals and values.

Offer strategies to reduce harm

Protective behavioral strategies can be used to reduce the harm associated with substance use:

  • Eat before drinking, and continue to eat food and drink water throughout the night.
  • Alternate drinks with water or other non-alcoholic drinks.
  • Set a limit before going out and stick to it.
  • Get home safe. Use the free CU NightRide, or a rideshare like Lyft or Uber.
  • Drink at your own pace; avoid trying to keep up with someone else.
  • Know how much is one serving of alcohol: 1.5 ounces of hard liquor, 5 ounces of wine and 12 ounces of beer.
  • Avoid mixing prescription drugs with alcohol. This is the most common cause of overdose.
  • Make a plan with friends before going out and stick to it. If plans need to change, talk about it as a group.
  • Know the signs of alcohol poisoning and how to put someone in the Recovery Position.