Drug Education and Harm Reduction



Substance use, misuse, and abuse can impact all dimensions of your wellbeing. We are here as a resource to provide you with educational opportunities, social host trainings, and organizational risk management workshops so you can safely enjoy your time here at Duke. Whether you are looking for information or strategies for yourself, a friend, or for a larger organization, DuWell can work with you to develop an action plan for reducing the potential harm stemming from high-risk behaviors and activities.  


What You Can Do

  • Parties and Darties. Large gatherings can't happen. There is an increased risk of exposure to COVID-19.
  • Don’t Drink Alone. Zoom doesn’t count. If something were to happen there may not be an active bystander there to help intervene.
  • Know the Size of a Standard Drink: Knowing these sizes can help prevent you from over consuming.
    • Beer: 12oz at 5% alcohol
    • Wine: 5oz at 12% alcohol
    • Liquor: 1.5oz at 80 proof alcohol
  • Count Your Drinks: Set a limit for the night and stick to it. Use your phone to keep track or ask a friend to help. Refer back to the standard drink sizes. Extra free time doesn’t mean an increased drink limit.
  • Make Your Own: Always make and measure your own drinks so you know how much and what is in them. Drinks made by others have a greater chance of containing other substances. Steer clear of communal drinks that are often found it coolers - there's no way to tell how much alcohol it contains.
  • Ride the Wave: Pace yourself over the course of the event. Try alternating between non-alcoholic and alcohol drinks to help.
  • Eat Before, During, and After: Eating before and during drinking helps slow the absorption of alcohol into your system.
  • Don't Mix Alcohol with Medicine: Mixing alcohol with certain medications can cause a variety of dangerous symptoms. Click here for more info.
  • Don’t Drink: Not everyone drinks, so don't feel like you're missing out.

What is alcohol poisoning?

Alcohol poisoning is a serious - and sometimes deadly - consequence of consuming large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time. Drinking too much, too quickly can affect your breathing, heart rate, and gag reflex and potentially lead to coma and death.


What are the symptoms of alcohol poisoning?

  • Eyes roll back in head, skin is clammy, skin color changes, breathing slows down, heart rate is slow, vomiting while passed out, cannot be awakened from their passed out state.


What do I do if I think someone has alcohol poisoning?

If you suspect that someone has alcohol poisoning — even if you don't see the classic signs and symptoms — seek immediate medical care. Here's what to do:

  • Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. Never assume the person will sleep off alcohol poisoning.
  • Be prepared to provide information. If you know, be sure to tell hospital or emergency personnel the kind and amount of alcohol the person drank, and when.
  • Don't leave an unconscious person alone. Because alcohol poisoning affects the way the gag reflex works, someone with alcohol poisoning may choke on his or her own vomit and not be able to breathe. While waiting for help, don't try to make the person vomit because he or she could choke.
  • Help a person who is vomiting. Try to keep him or her sitting up. If the person must lie down, make sure to turn his or her head to the side — this helps prevent choking. Try to keep the person awake to prevent loss of consciousness.


If you seek medical help on behalf of someone with alcohol poisoning, formal disciplinary action for a violation of the campus alcohol policy will not be taken.

To ensure you receive amnesty, you must do two things:

  1. Provide your name when calling 911 
  2. Stay with the victim until help arrives.


Sources: Alcohol poisoning. Mayo Clinic.

When does drinking for fun turn into problem drinking? It’s not always easy to see when drinking has crossed the line from moderate or social use to problem drinking. And it can be hard to talk to your friend about your concerns for their drinking habits. Being a friend or partner of a person with an substance use problem can be difficult for you and negatively affect your relationship.  You are not alone.

Tips for talking with your friend:

  • Express to your friend when they are sober about how his/her drinking makes you feel. You may be met with excuses, denial, or anger but what does matter is that you express your love and concern with specific examples of behavior that has worried you.
  • Making empty threats or preaching does not show your support for them.
  • Don’t feel guilty or responsible for his/her behavior. It is not your fault.
  • Keep in mind that change cannot be forced. It takes time for someone to seek help and develop new coping skills to overcome problem drinking. Being patient is important.
  • Remain involved in the recovery process but don’t assume their responsibilities. Taking over their responsibilities protects them from the consequences of their behavior.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I worry about how much my friend drinks?
  • Am I embarrassed or hurt by my friend’s behavior after he/she drinks?
  • Do I make excuses for this behavior to our friends or others?
  • Are you afraid to upset your friend for fear it will set off a drinking bout?
  • Does “having a drink” seem to be more important than other things?
  • Has the personal safety of myself, partner, or other friends been threatened when he/she drinks?

If you have answered YES to any of these questions, consider seeking support from any of these resources:

We recognize that parents and families are the first line of defense against many unhealthy decisions that students make.

It is important to have open and honest conversations with your student about their personal well-being.  Specifically, having non-judgmental discussions about alcohol and other drug use helps educate and guide them towards decisions that keep them happier and healthier while they are at Duke.

Click here for information on how to get the conversation started.


Due to current, environmental COVID-19 prevention practices, Party Monitor Trainings will not be held during Fall 2020.

What is a Party Monitor?

Party Monitors are trained members of student organizations or Selective Living Groups that are required to be present at all on-campus events that are BYOB (Bring Your own Beer) or include alcohol. Party Monitors are sober, active bystanders that assist in promoting safe social behaviors to ensure that the event ends well for all those attending. 

What does the Party Monitor training cover?

  • Your role as a Party Monitor.
  • How you can promote safe social behaviors.
  • How your organization can host a safe and successful event.
  • The risks associated with alcohol and other drug use.
  • Skills to address potentially dangerous and questionable behavior among your guests.
  • Resources that can help support your group.

Party Monitor Requirements

  • Members of your organization must complete one Party Monitor Training each academic year.
  • As a Party Monitor, you must remain sober before and during your shift.
  • For all events involving alcohol there must be one Party Monitor for every 25 expected attendees. 
  • The name(s) of each Party Monitor must be submitted via DukeGroups when registering your event.

Introductory vs. Advanced Party Monitor Training


How We Can Help


BASICS is for students who have had negative experiences or problems related to alcohol and/or other drug use. It is an evidence-based program that helps our students make better decisions in the future and reduce their risk. Individual BASICS provides at least one, non-judgmental session with a member of our team.

What you can expect:

  • BASICS is a casual interview process that meets the student where they are to provide them with risk reduction strategies and resources. BASICS helps students evaluate their own alcohol and/or other drug use and provides personalized feedback for self-improvement and safer choices in the future.
  • BASICS is not a counseling session. Our staff are trained facilitators that use motivational interviewing techniques to encourage positive change in behavior. We are also trained to recognize and refer students who may have more serious substance use dependence issues.

If you have been referred to our office to complete a BASICS session or you just want to know more about your patterns of use, click here to set up an appointment.


We provide advising and consultations for student groups that are planning to host events where risk around alcohol and other substance use may be involved. We will work with your group on an ongoing basis to help develop and implement a risk management plan to help minimize the negative consequences and high-risk behavior that may be associated with your event. 

To make an appointment call 919-681-8421 or email duwell@studentaffairs.duke.edu.

Support and Resources:

Supporting Those in Recovery

We welcome those in our community who are in recovery or allies to recovery.

  • Virtual Recovery Group Meetings: (Starts August 19th) Held every Wednesday on Zoom from 12:00pm - 1:00pm. To join, click here.  

  • DukeReach: DukeReach provides case management services to students in recovery or returning from a leave of absence for ongoing coordination of care and referrals to resources on and around campus. For more information contact DukeReach at 919-681-2455

  • AA Meetings: Alcoholics Anonymous® is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.  For Durham-based AA meetings, click here.

  • Al-Anon: Al-Anon provides friends and relatives of those with a substance use disorder an opportunity to gather together to share their experience, strength, and hope in order to solve their common problems.

  • NA Meetings: Narcotics Anonymous  provides help from peers and offers an ongoing support network for substance abusers who wish to pursue and maintain a drug-free lifestyle. the name, Narcotics Anonymous, is not meant to imply a focus on any particular drug; NA’s approach makes no distinction between drugs including alcohol. For Durham-based NA meetings, click here.

  • Duke Marine Lab - Recovery Resources: For students taking classes at the Marine Lab in Beaufort, NC and looking for support, click here for resources.