Student Health And Counseling Services

Topic - Alcohol and Substance Abuse

How to Identify Substance Abuse

  • increased frequency of use
  • loss of control over frequency, duration and/or amount of use
  • drinking or using when you don't intend to
  • substance use interferes with life activities (i.e. school, relationships with family and friends)
  • increased spending money on substance of choice
  • personality changes noted by self and others
  • getting into risky/dangerous behaviors
  • other people express concern about your use/ your behavior
  • grades dropping
  • missing classes and appointments
  • legal trouble (i.e., DUI)

Frequent use and abuse of substances can have a serious effect on one's academic and personal lives. If you think that you are having difficulty controlling your use of alcohol or would like to talk to someone about your use: Call and make an appointment with one of the counselors at 715-425-3884.

Alcohol Assessments

Alcohol and other drug assessments are available for currently enrolled UWRF students through UWRF Counseling Services (a fee is charged for court ordered assessments). Call ahead for an appointment 715-425-3884.

Alcoholics Anonymous Local Meetings

When you get to the page, click on "District 05 AA Meeting List."

How to Help a Friend

It is an act of great caring to share your concern with someone if you believe they are doing something that is causing them harm. It is not a confrontation, conviction, or personal attack to tell someone you care enough about them to talk about what’s going on and to offer a helping hand.

General Principles

  • Ignoring self-defeating behavior is not helpful to the person about whom you are concerned.
  • Helpful intervention is a process—not an event.
  • When people are confronted about behavior that is a part of their lifestyle, they may become defensive and angry.
  • The more you learn about alcohol and other drugs effects, the more helpful you can be to those who are having problems with them.

Attempt to do the Following

  • Let the person know you care about him/her by using “I” messages, e.g., “I’m worried about you”.
  • Try to remain calm.
  • Refer to specific and observable behaviors, e.g. “I am worried because you have been drinking three nights a week for the past month and your grades are falling”.
  • Remain non-judgmental. Emphasize the contrast between the person’s positive sober behavior and the intoxicated behavior or negative life effects which concerns you.
  • Use gentle persistence.
  • Anticipate possible responses (minimize, change topic, make excuses, promise to change, challenge your use).
  • Accept their anger; don’t argue or get angry in return.
  • Be ready to provide education (printed information, a list of campus and community resources, pamphlets on abuse).
  • Utilize your own support system (talk with a support person before and/or after).
  • Counseling Services has "Concerned Other" appointments available to assist students in navigating concerns about other students. 

Try to Avoid the Following

  • Arguing with the person
  • Getting angry and losing control
  • Getting hooked by their defensiveness (don’t feel guilty or take it personally).
  • Delaying the discussion; it should be done as soon as possible after an incident and after the person is sober
  • Diagnosing e.g., “You’re an alcoholic”
  • Sparing the person from the consequences of his/her use

If a person/student is willing to accept professional help, give them all the information you can about their various options.  UWRF Counseling Services is a great place to start because they provide students with a confidential evaluation, counseling, and referral services.  Call us at 715-425-3884.

Content courtesy of University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Counseling Center

These links may also be helpful:

College Drinking Prevention Program - National

Adult Children of Alcoholics

Mental Health and Addiction

Drugs and Addiction Information

ALANON (A program for the recovery of families and friends of alcoholics)


Page updated Summer 2021 by Kaleah Bautch, MS, LPC.  Kaleah is a Personal Counselor in Student Health and Counseling at University of Wisconsin - River Falls.

Contact Us

Student Health and Counseling Services
Student Health Services: 715-425-3293
Counseling Services: 715-425-3884
M-F: 8 am - 4:30 pm
254 Rodli Hall