January 20, 2018

Offering help when your classmate has a drinking problem

Greek bystander intervention to prevent alcohol abuse.

Tawan Perry - Bystander Intervention 002

What do you do when you know your fraternity brother or sorority sister may have a drinking problem or is engaged in some form of substance abuse? I think this is one of the toughest and covert issues that college Greek leaders address each year. You don’t want to alienate your troubled Greek member and you don’t want to create mistrust within your college Greek student organization. Here are some tips to assist your fellow Greek before their substance abuse problem gets out of control.

Tip #1 – Don’t Judge

Whatever you do you should never make judgments or statements such as “You are always drunk”, “You’re an embarrassment.” While these statements seem cruel and harsh, people tend to make these statements in the heat of the moment or otherwise. Instead, use I feel statements instead of you are statements. This way, you are articulating the way their behavior impacts you.

Tip #2 – Seek out support

The instant you realize that your fellow fraternity or sorority member may have a problem; you should get in touch with the appropriate resources that can assist your friend. If the problem is serious enough, there are professional services like the Illinois alcohol rehab center available in most every state. Remember, you are not a substance abuse or mental health trained professional. Your job isn’t to make a diagnosis, rather, it is to gather helpful resource information and present it when the moment is right. Campus resources such as counseling services, your Greek advisor, and alcohol/substance abuse prevention services are a good place to start.

Tip #3 – In their time

We’ll all probably heard the saying, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make ’em drink.” Well the same is true for people, no matter how much we want someone to change or would like to help someone; they have to be willing to. It is not our decision. The best thing you can do for your fellow Greek member is to provide them with the necessary help, listen, and be as supportive as possible. I know it’s never easy to watch someone go down the wrong path but as a supportive friend you can’t force them, attend their pity party or worse—blame yourself. They will make the right decision when they feel the time is right.

Unfortunately, alcohol and substance abuse is a big problem on many college campuses. As a member of your student organization, Greek or non-Greek, it would be to your benefit to get acquainted with the appropriate campus resources should the problem arise. It’s not a matter of if there will be a problem; it’s a matter of where to go in order to solve the problem. It’s your organization, so get connected and stay connected with your institutions campus resources. Prevention is the best cure.

About the Author: Tawan Perry (24 Posts)

Tawan Perry is the creator of the comprehensive Connect-5 College Completion Program. As a college speaker and as both a former student leader and college administrator, Tawan uses the Connect-5 College Completion program to help guide students step by step from college prep to cap and gown.


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