The Student Honor Office took disciplinary action on 36 cases of BYU-Idaho students related to alcohol and other substances in 2020, a recent report stated.
According to Addiction Center, “Those who are enrolled in a full-time college program are twice as likely to abuse drugs and alcohol than those who don’t attend college.”
While BYU-I follows a strict code regarding substances, the use of alcohol and drugs among students may be more common than one would believe.
A BYU-I student who wishes to remain anonymous said a group of about 10 students she knew used to get together and drink alcohol at least twice a week.
“It was really irresponsible,” she said. “It also could have been illegal because I know some of them were underage. Plus, it was breaking all the Honor Office rules.”
While she wasn’t involved herself, she saw videos of the students drinking on their social media accounts.
“I was actually really surprised when I first started school here,” she said. “In my first or second year, I started running into people and you just hear these stories. I’ve had roommates tell me their old roommate was smoking weed in their apartment or things like that. I guess it happens a lot more than you would think.”
As part of the Biennial Drug-Free Schools Report published on Feb. 23, BYU-I surveyed 330 students this month on drugs and alcohol.
In the survey, 6.7% of students admitted to a little use of alcohol, 4.3% to marijuana and 3.4% to prescription drugs over the past year. Students also reported knowing others using alcohol (22.6%), vaping/e-cigarettes (22.3%), marijuana (15.6%) and prescription drugs (8.6%).
BYU-I students’ substance use is significantly less than the nation’s average college student.
According to the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, within the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, “More than one-third of full-time college students aged 18 to 22 engaged in binge drinking in the past month; about 1 in 5 used an illicit drug in the past month.”
This difference is most likely due to the University’s church affiliation and the Honor Code commitment.
BYU-I’s mission statement is as follows: “Brigham Young University-Idaho was founded and is supported and guided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Its mission is to develop disciples of Jesus Christ who are leaders in their homes, the Church, and their communities.”
To attend BYU-I, students are asked to agree to the University’s Honor Code.
“Students sign a commitment to abstain from substances as part of their Honor Code commitment and their endorsement, so I think that is a huge player in it,” said Wynn Hill, the dean of students.
Regarding substances, the BYU-I Honor Code requires students to “abstain from alcoholic beverages, tobacco, tea, coffee, vaping, and substance abuse.”
The Student Honor Office disciplines students who break this code. According to the Biennial Drug-Free Schools Report, since 2018, disciplinary action related to alcohol and other substances declined from 111 cases in 2018 to 60 cases in 2019 and to 36 cases in 2020.
While 92% of students from the survey stated they know the University’s rules and regulations regarding drugs and 96% know the associated health risks, only 45% of students know about drug counseling programs available on campus.
Apart from the Honor Code, BYU-I implements many other programs to help students with drug and alcohol prevention.
As a Church-affiliated University, students have access to ecclesiastical leaders who work one-on-one with students and can help to resolve alcohol or drug-related problems.
When dealing with drugs and alcohol, 79.1% of students reported they would refer to their bishop for intervention.
The Counseling Center has staff professionally qualified to help students with treatment for alcohol and drug problems. In the survey, 78.4% of students reported they would go to the Counseling Center for help with substance abuse.
“We offer counseling for students struggling, mostly one-on-one counseling with our licensed therapists,” said Reed Stoddard, the Counseling Center director. “What is talked about in counseling is confidential. Some students will worry that if they go to the Counseling Center to talk about something that is in violation with the Honor Code, like drugs or alcohol, it will get reported, but it doesn’t.”
The Student Health Center helps with substance abuse as well and can provide needed prescriptions. The center is staffed with physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, registered nurses, lab personnel, an X-ray technologist and a full-time registered pharmacist.
If students are struggling with substance abuse, they are encouraged to seek help and take advantage of the programs the University offers.
“We’re always concerned if anybody is using substances, especially illegally, and so we would encourage students to keep the commitment they made to be a student here,” Hill said. “If you do need help, please reach out. Reach out to your ecclesiastical leader, the Counseling Center or to anyone else you feel like you can trust to get that help.”
The full report is available at the Dean of Students Office and online.