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Substance use

As a board member of a student organization, chances are you will have to deal with alcohol and other drugs within your organization. What do you do when a member of your organization is often (heavily) under the influence at a get-together? What do you do when a member wants to smoke weed during a member weekend? And what do you do if someone aged 17 is seen with alcohol?

On November 14, 2023, Bestuurlijk Actief Utrecht organized an impact session on alcohol policy at student organizations in collaboration with Jellinek. Following this meeting, a handout with suggestions was created.

Tips & tricks

Laws and regulations

  • Make sure tappers/shoppers/bar staff are always completely sober. For social clubs, there is an e-learning available on serving alcohol responsibly. Jellinek also offers a course on serving alcohol responsibly.
  • Due to privacy regulations, you are not allowed to have your members take drug tests.
  • Make sure that your members under 18 are clearly identifiable (by means of wristbands or a face book behind the bar) and that they clearly know that they are not allowed to drink, even during an activity of their club.
  • Inform your members about the club’s alcohol and drug policy, for example by distributing it annually.
  • In addition to a clear policy, make sure there are clear penalties for breaking the rules regarding alcohol and other drugs.
  • Prevent people from taking drugs with them to weekends away or on trips by explicitly mentioning the prohibition on the packing list.

Limiting availability

  • Make sure there are enough places for your members to get free water.
  • Reduce or adjust the availability and/or serving times of alcohol.
  • Implement the policy within your association that non-alcoholic beverages should never be more expensive than alcoholic beverages.

Influencing the social norm: providing information and promoting knowledge

  • Provide information about alcohol and other drugs through an information activity. On the website of Jellinek you can find their offer forĀ students and student associations, such as counseling sessions, group informations or trainings for bar volunteers.
  • Make it clear that drinking alcohol is not compulsory and implement this in all your communications. For example, by: not making alcohol the central focus of promotion and communication around parties. Offering good non-alcoholic alternatives, not asking members who don’t drink to account for their actions.

Learn more…

If you, as a board, would like advice on drawing up a policy regarding alcohol and drugs or if there have been incidents or problems within your association, do not hesitate to contact your umbrella organization or professionals.

Jellinek: Jellinek is the local expert in the field of addiction but also does a lot in the field of prevention. On their website you can find their (mostly free) offer to students and student associations, such as counseling, group information or training for bar volunteers. Do you have any questions about this or would you like someone to talk to about what you can do to responsibly deal with substance use within your association? Please contact Eva Kalis (eva.kalis@jellinek.nl).
You can also call the Jellinek advice line on 088-5051220.

Trimbos: The Trimbos Institute is the independent knowledge institute for alcohol, tobacco, drugs and mental health. On their site you can find a lot of information on these topics that every student has to deal with. They have created an infosheet especially for student organizations.