As a faculty or staff memeber you have a unique role in the lives of Auburn University students. In this section we discuss health and wellness topics which could have an impact on a student's academic performance.
One of the primary challenges facing college students is finding a balance between rigorous academic coursework and an equally rigourous life outside the classroom. In some instances social life may involve alcohol use and occassionally binge drinking. As a faculty member you may have seen a student struggling to succeed because he or she is choosing to "go out," or “living it up” more frequently than spending time on assigments. Evidence of alcohol use can be seen through struggles attending class, turning in assignments, attentiveness in class, and performance on exams. You may overhear students talking about last night's escapades.
The overall success of students is Auburn’s top priority, and faculty members can help with early intervention if they suspect that one of their students is struggling to succeed because of alcohol use.
Expressing concern to a struggling student may be all it takes for them to recognize potential problems. Bringing up concerns also reinforces the idea of the “Auburn Family,” that we are all in this together and here to help one another succeed. You may be the only person in a student’s life reaching out to help, as their friends might be encouraging and participating in the same behavior and their parents might be far away and not know what is going on.
Knowing what to say to a student you suspect is struggling can be difficult. Tell the student exactly what you have been observing, and why you are concerned. Give them full information about their grades in the course, and show them any decline in success that you are worried about. Tell the student that you are speaking to them because of concern for their well-being, and encourage them to seek additional help through one of our on-campus resources available to them.
Some faculty and staff members have found the AUDIT-C to be helpful when talking about alcohol use with students. The AUDIT-C is a short, three question assesment used in a variety of settings to assess level of alcohol use. More information about the AUDIT-C can be found here. Additionally, you can call Health Promotion and Wellness Services at 844-1528 for further information.
The Extended Hangover and Academic Performance
Alcohol's effects on the body last much longer than the hours spent at the party or bar. While many students realize that alcohol has immediate effects on the brain, and drinking too much can cause memory loss commonly referred to as “blackouts,” most students do not realize that drinking heavily can affect your body and mind days later. After bouts of heavy drinking, your memory and concentration are compromised for up to 72 hours, making it more difficult to study and inhibiting the ability to store new information. This is because alcohol compromises the functioning of the hippocampus, which consolidates information to create long-term memory.
Additionally, instances of heavy drinking can interfere with natural sleep rhythms. Drinking inhibits the REM sleep stage, during which memories are solidified. This disruption not only causes problems with memory that affect academic performance, but also can contribute to the development of unhealthy, off-balance lifestyles because of exhaustion that will eventually affect your student’s success.