Substance Abuse

A head shot of a young man with dark, unkempt hair, in profile, looking downcast, in front of a mirror in which he is partly reflected.

Darryl began the term as an eager student. His assignments were all turned in on time and reflected high quality work. As the year went on, however, Darryl’s work became careless and uninspired. It seemed like he was always doing it at the very last minute. He often wore sunglasses, even indoors, and his speech was slow and quiet. He became increasingly non-communicative. His hair was often uncombed and his general hygiene began to suffer. He began to miss class and turn in assignments that were either late or incomplete, or both. His normally outgoing, sunny personality seemed to have largely disappeared.

Then Darryl missed an in-class exam. His instructor sent him an email asking to meet outside of class. Arriving at the meeting, Darryl looked nervous. Removing his sunglasses, he showed a pair of very bloodshot eyes. Although irritated with Darryl for missing the in-class exam, the instructor gently expressed concerns about Darryl’s performance and the fact that his work seemed to be going steadily downhill. The instructor knew that Darryl had potential, and told him that. Then the instructor asked Darryl if he was partying a lot. Darryl acknowledged that he was, and that he was smoking a lot of marijuana. The instructor asked Darryl if he thought that his chronic marijuana use was causing problems for him in his life. Darryl nodded. With Darryl’s permission, the instructor made a call to the campus counselling services to get an intake appointment set up for him. Darryl promised that he would attend the appointment. In the next few weeks Darryl attended class more regularly. While he occasionally still came to class looking like he had probably been out late the night before, his mood, his behaviour, and his schoolwork all improved greatly.