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[Fresh] Fresh@news: A conversation with the Assistant Dean for Alcohol and Drug Intervention



 

 

Today, Fresh@News is interviewing one of the many resources on campus related to drugs and alcohol.   Galeet Farrow, Assistant Dean for Alcohol and Drug Intervention, will share with us her role on campus and how you as parents can best support your son or daughter on this topic.

 

Fresh@News:  Why don’t we start with your role on campus and how you connect with students. 

Galeet Farrow:  Well, my role covers a few different areas, all related to alcohol or other drug use.  My primary role is to see students in addition to the disciplinary dean when they get in trouble for alcohol or drug related issues.  I use that time together to assess if they need additional education, explore how well they are transitioning to college and the accompanying peer pressures, and if they are developing a substance problem, to catch it early and intervene.

 

In addition to that,  I am a resource to any student who wants to come in and talk about their alcohol use and how that may be negatively impacting them. Over the last few years I have seen an increase in students who seek my assistance voluntarily (and of course would not be in trouble for whatever they tell me about).

 

Fresh@News:  What issues do you see most frequently with our first year student population?

GF:  Errors of inexperience is a big one; students who have drank very little in high school are suddenly exposed to much more ease of access to liquor. They often, despite our educational efforts, really don’t understand how much they are drinking and how many standard drinks can be in a mixed drink. Sometimes, students will be so intoxicated that they need medical attention and often these are students with very little experience drinking.

 

For other students for whom alcohol use was common in high school, I may start to see the beginnings of an alcohol abuse problem. They often normalize their excessive drinking and rationalize that they’re in college so it is okay. Unfortunately many social norms encourage this type of thinking and often they don’t realize they have developed a problem until many years, or many disciplinary infractions, later.

Although not as prevalent as alcohol, I also meet with students to talk about marijuana.  Marijuana contains the compound THC which is the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s psychological effects.  Some studies have shown that the level of THC contained in today’s marijuana is as much as 3-4 times more potent than marijuana from 30-40 years ago.  This is worrisome.  Villanova cares about the well-being of our students and research indicates that marijuana use greatly effects students’ capacity in areas directly related to being successful in college, particularly, short and long term memory, lack of motivation, and risks for developing certain mental health disorders.  While some states’ regulation regarding marijuana may be in flux, it is against the law in Pennsylvania and University policies prohibit its use.  Students should be aware that Villanova enforces its marijuana policy, and I encourage you to discuss this issue and your expectations with your son or daughter.

 

Fresh@News:  What is the biggest challenge for your office?

GF:  I strive to have students realize that I am here to help, that my background is in counseling and that they are not in more trouble by meeting with me.  Also, the social norms of excessive drinking in college make it difficult to help them see what responsible consumption would look like.  During our conversations, I hope to overcome these hurdles with the students and move in a positive direction.

 

Fresh@News:  What resources do you provide to students?

GF:  I provide individual meetings at a student’s request. I also run groups for students who have had many disciplinary issues to give them extra assistance throughout the semester in decision making and peer choices. I am also a primary resource for students in recovery and work to link those students together for support.

 

We also offer a free BAC calculator app which can be downloaded through the app store for android and iPhone via Baccards.com.

 

Fresh@News:  What can first year students do to help themselves be successful after meeting with you?

GF:  Well the most important thing students can do is really understand a standard drink and how much they are consuming. Most girls don’t realize that after 3-4 drinks they are heavily intoxicated and that a mixed drink can easily have 2-3 shots or “standard drinks” in it. So at a party she can have one mixed drink and have consumed as much alcohol as her body can safely tolerate. I find the guys often lose count or simply don’t count because they’re playing drinking games or just keeping up with their friends, figuring they can drink as much as the next guy. So my overall recommendation is to really understand Blood Alcohol Content, or BAC, and know what they’re consuming.

 

After meeting with me, I hope they put into practice some of the things we discussed. Common strategies like holding a nonalcoholic drink in your hand so people don’t keep offering, always making your own drink (and measuring), making sure to eat before/during and staying with your friends can make a big difference.

 

Fresh@News:  What advice do you have for parents?

GF:  Please don’t encourage the “it’s just college” mentality. Many parents remember their own college days with rose colored glasses forgetting about the many peers who went on to develop emotional or substance-related problems.

Protect your child by being the parent in their mind. Have a low tolerance for alcohol use and high expectations of behavior. Do not condone college drinking. They may still make the choice to consume alcohol, but if they know that their parent does not approve or condone it, they are more likely to drink less often and less amount and to be more cautious than if they believe even the adults think its fine.

 

Do discuss in detail the concept of their BAC to help them understand their body weight and understand how standard drinks affect them. Remember, in college we see a lot of Solo cups, so a “glass of wine” is not the same as a solo cup full of it! Discuss these realities and set high expectations that would be my advice. Also, if you’re concerned about your kids use, don’t wait to see if it gets worse. Reach out; contact me or another caring staff member so that maybe we can intervene early, leading to better long term outcomes.  As the parent  you know your child best, and if you think there is a problem, we are here to help you and your son or daughter be successful at Villanova.

 

 

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The Division of Student Life would like to wish

your family many blessings this Easter!

 

We hope you enjoy your time together during the break, and we look forward to the remainder of the spring semester at Villanova!

 

 

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