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Alcohol and Controlled Substances

Alcoholic Beverage and Controlled Substances Policies for All Students and Organizations Emergency TreatmentEvent Policies for Graduate and Professional Students and OrganizationsEvent Policies for Undergraduate Students and Organizations /  SanctionsResourcesHealth Risks /  Warning Signs of Possible Substance Abuse /  Drug Effects Table (PDF Document) / Federal Trafficking Penalty Charts (PDF Document)

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Vanderbilt University is deeply concerned about the health and welfare of its students. University policies and regulations in general–and alcohol and controlled substances policies in particular–reflect that concern. The purpose of the policies, and the purpose of articulating them in great detail, is to enable students to make informed–and, it is hoped, intelligent–choices, as well as to enable them to understand the consequences of making poor choices. In compliance with the federal Drug-Free Schools and Campuses regulations, Vanderbilt has adopted a policy that includes the expectation that students will comply with federal, state, and local laws, including those relating to alcoholic beverages, narcotics, and other drugs.

The University prohibits the unlawful possession, use, or distribution of alcohol and controlled substances by students, faculty, and staff, on its property, or as part of any University-sponsored activity. The prohibition extends to off-campus activities that are officially sponsored by Vanderbilt, its schools, departments, or organizations. In addition, the prohibition extends to off-campus professional or organizational activities, including attendance at conferences, when participation is sponsored by the University, or when the participating student, faculty member, or staff member is representing the University. Finally, the prohibition extends to “private” events off campus where the University may have an interest (e.g., if a student were to provide alcohol to underage students at an off-campus location).

The improper use of prescription drugs is a serious problem on college campuses.  For this reason, it is a violation of University policy for a student to be in possession of another person’s prescription medication or for a student to provide another person with medications that have been prescribed for that student.

To underscore the seriousness with which it takes the issue of health and welfare of its constituent populations, the University will impose disciplinary sanctions on students, faculty, and staff–up to and including expulsion or termination of employment, and possible referral for prosecution–for violation of the alcohol and controlled substances policy. Conditions of continued employment or enrollment may include the completion of an appropriate rehabilitation program.

In addition to the standards of conduct prohibited by law and University policy, students, faculty, and staff are subject to the additional requirements, disciplinary standards, and procedures promulgated by their respective schools, departments, and organizations. Additional standards of conduct, disciplinary standards, and procedures may be found elsewhere in The Student Handbook, in the Faculty Manual, and in the Medical Center Alcohol and Drug Use Policy (Policy No. 30-08), and any applicable union contract. Students, faculty, and staff may refer to these documents for details.

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Alcoholic Beverage and Controlled Substances Policies for All Students and Organizations

The following regulations apply to the use of alcoholic beverages or controlled substances by individuals, by groups, by University departments, or by an organization’s members and invited guests:

  • Subject to statutory exceptions available under Tennessee lay, alcoholic beverages may not be provided (served, distributed, furnished) to persons under legal drinking age (twenty-one years old) for the state of Tennessee.
  • Because of the danger that drunk drivers pose to themselves and to others, the operation of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs is prohibited.
  • Due to the danger that intoxicated persons pose to themselves and to others, as well as to the disruption that intoxication can bring to the living/learning community, intoxication is prohibited.
  • Alcohol may not be used as an award or trophy for any event or program of the University or by any University organization, group, or individual.
  • Notices, posters, flyers, banners, etc., may not use logos or trademarks of alcoholic beverages, or mention or refer to alcoholic beverages or their availability at an event.
  • “B.Y.O.B.,” as shorthand for “Bring Your Own Beverage,” may be used on postings, etc., for events that have been registered B.Y.O.B. during the event registration process. (See requirements of the registration process, below.)
  • Groups or individuals who effect excessive and/or harmful consumption of alcohol through games, peer pressure, subterfuge, or other activities are subject to disciplinary action.
  • Unlawful possession, use or distribution of controlled substances or drug paraphernalia is prohibited; this prohibition includes possession of prescription medication prescribed to another person and distribution of a medication prescribed for one person, to any other person.  The term distribution includes “sharing” of any drug and does not require the exchange of money.
    • The use of common containers of alcoholic beverages such as kegs, pony kegs, party pigs, punch bowls, or party balls by undergraduates, or at any event to which undergraduates have been invited, or at which they are present, is prohibited.
    • The use of pure grain alcohol by individuals or organizations, the use of devices such as funnels and beer bongs designed for the rapid consumption of alcohol, and drinking games are prohibited on campus or at any event sponsored by a student organization or hosted by a student or students off campus.
      • Officers of an organization or residence, or other individuals hosting an event, are responsible for ensuring compliance with University policies and state and local law. If non-compliant, organizations and individuals are subject to disciplinary action by the University, and to prosecution by the state of Tennessee, and/or the Metropolitan Government of Nashville/Davidson County.
      • The only places on campus where students (who must be of legal drinking age) may routinely possess and consume alcoholic beverages are as follows:
  1. the rooms and apartments of students in upperclass residences (with the exception of substance-free floors and buildings, and freshman rooms in upperclass buildings),
  2. fraternity houses,
  3. The Overcup Oak (beverages sold on the premises, only).

Students may not consume alcoholic beverages elsewhere, except in common areas designated by student vote in upperclass residences in accordance with residential autonomy procedures, or when an event has been appropriately registered as an event at which alcoholic beverages will be consumed (see also “Scheduling Activities” in Chapter 5, “Student Engagement”).

Possession of open containers of beer or other alcoholic beverages, regardless of the type of container, in the lobbies of residences or about the campus, is prohibited

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Emergency Treatment

It is in the best interest of students’ welfare that persons who overdose or become intoxicated be brought to the attention of medical personnel. For that reason, and other University policies notwithstanding, it is University policy that no student seeking medical attention for intoxication or overdose shall be formally disciplined for the simple illegal use or underage possession of alcohol or other drugs, provided that the sole reason the student’s intoxication or overdose was discovered by University officials arose from the seeking of medical care (by the affected student or by others), and provided that the affected student consents to the release of his or her medical records to Office of the Dean of Students personnel who the Dean has charged with managing post-event response.

Immunity from disciplinary action for alcohol violations extends to individuals seeking help for the intoxicated student, but does not relieve a group of responsibility for violation of policy; however, the fact that an organization sought help for an intoxicated student will be considered in determining any sanction for policy violations. Affected students immune from disciplinary action will be required to complete a course of evaluation counseling and, where indicated, treatment. Failure to complete the prescribed course and/or treatment can result in disciplinary action.

Event Policies for Graduate and Professional Students and Organizations

Graduate and professional students and organizations must register their events with the office of the relevant school’s dean. In certain cases, as when an event is to take place on a campus lawn, once the dean’s office approval has been secured, the event must also be registered with the Office of Registration and Events, and, if alcoholic beverages are to be present, authorized by the Special Events Registration Committee. The stipulations of event management, below, may be superseded by additional requirements of facilities management when an event occurs at a location other than the relevant school.

If an undergraduate group cosponsors an event with a graduate or professional student group, or if undergraduates are invited or present at an event, the policies governing undergraduate events must be followed. In addition, graduate or professional student groups and their officers are subject to disciplinary action if there are violations of the underage drinking law or University policies and regulations, at their events.

Event Management

  • Events, including those for which off-campus facilities are arranged, must be registered with the relevant dean’s office, as above.
  • If alcohol is among the beverages available, the organizers of the event must meet the following requirements:
  1. Complete Social Responsibility Training provided by the Office of Alcohol, Drug Abuse Prevention, prior to the event.
  2. Provide alternative beverages and food during the entire period that alcoholic beverages are available. Students organizing the event are responsible for providing both nonalcoholic beverages and food.
  3. Ensure that students serving alcoholic beverages have successfully completed Social Responsibility Training, as delineated, above. (The practice of “self-serve” is prohibited.)
  4. Comply with the appropriate dean’s office standards that effect the engaging of security officers or third-party bar tenders. (E.g, an event with a band or DJ, or guests invited from outside the Vanderbilt community, might require security. It is unlikely that a wine and cheese reception for a visiting scholar would.)

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Event Policies for Undergraduate Students and Organizations

For special events, a place may be designated as one where the possession and consumption of alcoholic beverages by those of legal drinking age is permitted. However, such occasions must be registered, approved, and advertised five days in advance as an event at which alcohol may be consumed. Sponsoring organizations may arrange for the provision in two ways.

  1. They may register the event as “B.Y.O.B” (“bring your own beverage”).
  2. With the authorization of the Dean of Students or the Dean’s designee, they may arrange for licensed vendors to sell distilled spirits and wine. (Beer is generally excluded because statutes prohibit the sale of beer within certain distances of buildings whose purpose is considered educational in nature.)

Event Management

  1. Events (on campus or off) at which alcohol will be available must be registered and arrangements approved by the Special Events Registration Committee at least four weeks in advance of the event. [Note that the Office of the Dean of Students will not approve fund raising events at off-campus locations whose primary business is the sale of alcohol (bars), or at any location where money is raised at the door, or through any other arrangement with an establishment involving financial transactions that circumvent the University's accounting system.]
  2. Organizers of events at which alcohol will be available must attend Social Responsibility Training coordinated by the Office of Alcohol, Drug Abuse Prevention prior to the event.
  3. Fraternity and sorority events must be registered with the Office of Greek Life, and must comply with the alcohol policies of the pertinent Greek governing body as well as University policies.
  4. Events of religious organizations or affiliated ministries which employ exceptions to state law regarding the age requirement for consumption of alcohol must be registered with the Religious Life office.
  5. Security must be provided at all events at which alcohol will be consumed. Security arrangements for an event must be reviewed and approved by the Special Event Registration Committee in advance of the event.
  6. Undergraduate groups, individuals, students, faculty, and staff may not serve alcoholic beverages to undergraduate students, except by special authorization from the Dean of Students or the Dean’s designee.
  7. The sale of alcoholic beverages by individuals or student groups is prohibited. This prohibition includes the sale of tickets that can be traded for alcoholic beverages, or the sale of t-shirts required for entry into an event where alcohol is distributed, or any scheme masking the distribution of alcohol. (See “Events that Include the Sales of Alcohol,” below.)
  8. Any time alcoholic beverages are served or permitted, alternative beverages and food must also be provided during the entire period that alcoholic beverages are available. Students organizing the event are responsible for providing nonalcoholic beverages and food.
  9. Individuals who wish to invite guests to a gathering in their apartments, suites, or lodges must have authorization from the Area Coordinator or the AC’s designee for the residential area. The registration form must be submitted 72 hours in advance of the event: http://www.vanderbilt.edu/ResEd/main/partyregistration.pdf . For the event to be authorized for B.Y.O.B., a majority of the hosts must be of legal age to drink alcoholic beverages. 

10. In keeping with the University’s policy prohibiting student organizations from making contractual commitments (whether formal, understood, or implied), student organizations may not hold events at off-campus locations without the expressed approval of the appropriate advisor, and the completion of appropriate contractual documents, approved by the Dean of Students or the Dean’s designee.

B.Y.O.B Events

  1. Undergraduate students who have reached the age designated by the state Tennessee (twenty-one years of age) for the legal consumption of alcoholic beverages may possess and consume alcoholic beverages at events registered and approved for consumption on a “bring-your-own” basis. B.Y.O.B. practices contemplate that an individual student of drinking age may share alcoholic beverages with a date or a companion who is also of legal drinking age. However, any subterfuge or device to evade the spirit of the University policy prohibiting the use of common containers by undergraduates or the provision of alcoholic beverages at undergraduate functions, will subject both students and organizations to disciplinary action.
  2. Policies of the student centers prohibit B.Y.O.B. events. (See below for alternative arrangements.)

Events that Include Sales of Alcohol

  1. Arrangements must be made for a third-party vender to sell alcohol.
  2. Staff of the student centers will assist student organizers of events in obtaining third-party vendors.
  3. The arrangements with the vendor must be reviewed by the Special Event Registration Committee, and approved by the Dean of Students or the Dean’s designee. Only the Dean of Students or the Dean’s designee may sign a contract with a vendor for the sale of alcohol.
  4. Student organizations or other event sponsors are prohibited from obtaining alcohol for resale by the vendor.
  5. Student organizations or other event sponsors are prohibited from receiving proceeds from the sale of alcohol.

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University Sanctions.

Vanderbilt University will impose disciplinary sanctions on students, ranging from a warning or reprimand, to disciplinary probation, suspension, or expulsion and referral for state or federal prosecution, for violation of its alcohol and controlled substances policy. As is the case with violations of other University policies, sanctions imposed will be appropriate to the severity and circumstances of the violation. The student’s previous record, attitude, and the seriousness of the offense will be taken into account in the determination of sanction.

The minimum sanction for simple purchase, possession, or consumption of alcohol in violation of University policy is a reprimand for the first offense. The completion of an appropriate assessment, education or rehabilitation program may be required. For simple possession or consumption in a substance-free residential area, the reprimand may be enhanced with sanctions that might include attendance or implementation of educational programs, or service projects. (See below.) In addition, disciplinary sanctions will be imposed for misconduct that results from the use of alcoholic beverages or other drugs. Students will also be held responsible for any damages that result from their misconduct. These sanctions will be imposed consistent with disciplinary standards and procedures found in Chapter 3, “Student Conduct.”

The minimum penalty for first-offense intoxication is disciplinary probation. Standard indicators for drinking and/or intoxication include lack of balance, loss of coordination, confusion, slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, odor of intoxicant, admissions to drinking, etc.

The minimum penalty for driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs is probation and loss of campus driving and parking privileges.

The presumptive penalty for a third violation of alcohol or controlled substances policies is suspension. Such offenses include–but are not limited to–underage possession or consumption of alcohol, illegal or unauthorized possession or consumption of controlled substances, intoxication, driving under the influence of alcohol or other substances that impair the senses, and alcohol-related or drug-related offenses against the community. Additionally, violations involving behavior that injures persons, that damages property, or that injures or damages the community at-large, increase the presumptive strength of this penalty.

Because of the seriousness of unlawful provision, distribution, or sale of alcohol or other drugs by a student (or group or organization), violation of this policy will result in serious disciplinary action, which may include suspension or expulsion for the first offense, and may also result in criminal prosecution. The minimum penalty for a student who illegally distributes alcohol to an underage student will be probation for the first offense, and suspension for the second offense. Distribution of illegal drugs (including prescription medication) may result in suspension for a first offense; this includes incidents in which no money is exchanged.  In addition, the possession of controlled substances or alcohol in such quantities as to create a presumption of possession with the intent to distribute on or off the campus, is a serious violation that may result in immediate suspension or expulsion.   Evidence that a student has distributed drugs is grounds for immediate suspension from the University and/or expulsion from University housing pending a hearing on the charges.

Student organizations that provide alcohol to those not of legal age, whether through direct purchase or other group activities, may be placed on probation for one calendar year for the first offense, with no parties with alcohol permitted for a period of six months.

Persons who unlawfully furnish alcoholic beverages to students who are not of legal drinking age may also be liable for personal injuries or property damages resulting from misconduct committed by underage, intoxicated students. Student organizations and the officers of such organizations may also be subject to such liabilities.

Sanction Enhancements

The purpose of any sanction for a violation of University policy is to get a student’s attention, to effect reflection on the part of the student, and, it is hoped, to effect voluntary compliance with the policy. Because violations of alcohol and drug policies can be a threat to a student’s health, welfare, and even life, enhancements may be added to any official sanction as additional means of helping students understand the potential consequences of policy violations.

Such enhancements may include the following:

1. evaluation by an alcohol and drug counselor at Student Health, and treatment or enrollment in a counseling program when indicated by the results of the evaluation,

2. required attendance at alcohol or drug education seminars,

3. implementation of an alcohol or drug educational program for peers,

4. service work linked to behavior associated with use of alcohol (Such details might include picking up litter from campus lawns, cleaning lobbies, restrooms, and stairwells, of campus residences, etc.),

5. completion of educational programs or on-line courses.

State of Tennessee Sanctions.

[This document contains a summary of state and federal sanctions for the unlawful use of controlled substances and alcohol. Portions of the summary were provided by the federal government, and while the summary is a good faith effort to provide information, Vanderbilt does not guarantee its accuracy.] Under state law, it is unlawful for any person under the age of twenty-one (21) to buy, possess, transport (unless in the course of their employment), or consume alcoholic beverages, including wine or beer. It is also unlawful for any adult to buy alcoholic beverages for or furnish them for any purpose to anyone under twenty-one years of age. These offenses are classified Class A Misdemeanors punishable by imprisonment for not more than eleven months and twenty-nine days, or a fine of not more than $2,500, or both. (T.C.A. ß 1-3-113, 39-15-404, 57-5-301.) The offense of public intoxication is a Class C Misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment of not more than thirty days or a fine of not more than $50, or both. (T.C.A. ß 39-17-310.) Under Tennessee law, the offense of possession or casual exchange of a controlled substance (such as marijuana) is punishable as a Class A Misdemeanor (eleven months twenty-nine days and/or a fine of $2,500). For the third and subsequent offense of possession of 1/2 oz. or less of marijuana, punishment is one to six years of imprisonment and a $3,000 fine. If there is an exchange from a person over twenty-one years of age to a person under twenty-one, and the older person is at least two years older than the younger, and the older person knows that the younger is under twenty-one years of age, then the offense is classified as a felony. (T.C.A. ß 39-17-417, 21 U.S.C. ß 801, et seq.; T.C.A. ß 39-17-417.) Possession of more than 1/2 oz. of marijuana under circumstances where intent to resell may be implicit is punishable by one to six years of imprisonment and a $5,000 fine for the first offense.

State penalties for possession of substantial quantities of a controlled substance or for manufacturing or distribution range up to a maximum of fifteen to sixty years of imprisonment and a $500,000 fine. (Title 39, T.C.A., Chapter 17.) For example, possession of more than twenty-six grams of cocaine is punishable by eight to thirty years of imprisonment and a $200,000 fine for the first offense.

The state may, under certain circumstances, impound a vehicle used to transport or conceal controlled substances.

United States Penalties and Sanctions for Illegal Possession of a Controlled Substance

21 U.S.C. 844(a)

First conviction: Up to one year imprisonment and fine of at least $1,000 but not more than $100,000, or both.

After one prior drug conviction: At least fifteen days in prison, not to exceed two years, and fine of at least $2,500 but not more than $250,000, or both.

After two or more prior drug convictions: At least ninety days in prison, not to exceed three years, and fine of at least $5,000 but not more than $250,000, or both.

Special sentencing provisions for possession of crack cocaine:

Mandatory at least five years in prison, not to exceed twenty years, and fine of up to $250,000, or both, if:

  • (a) first conviction and the amount of crack possessed exceeds five grams.
  • (b) second crack conviction and the amount of crack possessed exceeds three grams.
  • (c) third or subsequent crack conviction and the amount of crack possessed exceeds one gram.

21 U.S.C. 853(a)(2) and 881(a)(7)

Forfeiture of personal and real property used to possess or to facilitate possession of a controlled substance if that offense is punishable by more than one year imprisonment. (See special sentencing provisions re: crack.)

21 U.S.C. 881(a)(4)

Forfeiture of vehicles, boats, aircraft, or any other conveyance used to transport or conceal a controlled substance. [An automobile may be impounded in cases involving any controlled substance in any amount.]

21 U.S.C. 844(a)

21 U.S.C. 853(a)Civil fine of up to $10,000 (pending adoption of final regulations).

Denial of federal benefits, such as student loans, grants, contracts, and professional and commercial licenses, up to one year for first offense, up to five years for second and subsequent offenses.

18 U.S.C. 922(g)

Ineligibility to receive or purchase a firearm.


Revocation of certain federal licenses and benefits, e.g., pilot licenses, public housing tenancy, are vested within the authorities of individual federal agencies. Violations of federal trafficking laws that involve either (1) distribution or possession of controlled substances at or near a school or University campus, or (2) distribution of controlled substances to persons under twenty-one (21) years of age, incur doubled penalties under federal law. (See chart: Federal Trafficking Penalties.)

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As an educational institution, Vanderbilt University is primarily concerned with helping the individual student achieve academic goals and develop as a person. When health problems do arise, the University may assist and guide a student whose mental or physical health is threatened. Because of the health hazards associated  with binge drinking and other forms of alcohol abuse, students who choose to drink alcohol should imbibe only in moderation. Should students or their friends have a problem with alcohol or other drugs, there are several places on campus where one can receive assistance:

1. The Resident Adviser (RA), Head Resident, or Residence Life professional is available to listen to students with such problems and make a referral if necessary.

2. The Office of Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Prevention is located in 206 Sarratt Student Center.

3. The Psychological and Counseling Center and the Student Health Center both have therapists who can assist.

4. Students may wish to talk to someone in the office of Religious Life.

5. The Vanderbilt Institute for Treatment of Addiction (VITA) offers both inpatient and outpatient treatment (322-3886).

These campus and community resources are available and ready to assist. Calls will be handled in a confidential manner.

  • Your Resident Adviser and Head Resident
  • Your Associate Director and Area Coordinator
  • Your Dean
  • Your own physician/psychiatrist/psychologist
  • Office of Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Prevention 343-4740
  • Student Health Center 322-2427
  • Psychological and Counseling Center 322-2571
  • Office of Religious Life 322-2457
  • Office of Housing and Residential Education 322-2591
  • International Student and Scholar Services 322-2753
  • Emergency Room (VUH) 322-3391
  • Crisis Call Center 244-7444
  • VITA (Vanderbilt Institute for Treatment of Addiction) 322-3886
  • AA (call Friendship House, 202-23rd Avenue North, telephone 327-3909, for meeting times)

Health Risks

The following is a summary of known health risks associated with the use of illicit drugs and the abuse of alcohol. Part of the summary was provided by the federal government, and Vanderbilt does not guarantee that it is an error-free or exhaustive accounting.

Effects of alcohol abuse

Acute: Alcohol consumption causes a number of marked changes in behavior. Even low doses significantly impair the judgment and coordination required to drive a car safely, increasing the likelihood that the driver will be involved in an accident. Accidents are the leading cause of death among individuals aged fifteen to twenty-four years. Most are related to drinking and driving. Poor decisions and aggressive acts such as sexual assault are almost always associated with alcohol use. Low to moderate doses of alcohol also increase the incidence of a variety of aggressive acts, including spouse and child abuse. Moderate to high doses of alcohol cause marked impairments in higher mental functions, severely altering a person’s ability to learn and remember information. Very high doses cause respiratory depression and death. If combined with other depressants of the central nervous system, much lower doses of alcohol will produce the effects just described.

Chronic: Repeated use of alcohol can lead to dependence. Sudden cessation of alcohol intake is likely to produce withdrawal symptoms, including severe anxiety, tremors, hallucinations, and convulsions. Alcohol withdrawal can be life-threatening. Long-term consumption of large quantities of alcohol, particularly when combined with poor nutrition, can also lead to permanent damage to vital organs such as the brain and the liver. Some studies suggest that brain cells are actually permanently lost (killed) by high levels of alcohol.

Women who drink alcohol during pregnancy may give birth to infants with fetal alcohol syndrome. These infants have irreversible physical abnormalities and mental retardation. In addition, research indicates that children of alcoholic parents are at greater risk than other youngsters of becoming alcoholics.

Effects of other drugs

Marijuana: Marijuana and related compounds are usually used for their “relaxation” effects or to produce an altered sense of reality-a “high.” Marijuana is usually smoked, and like tobacco, it is very toxic to the lungs. Disorders of memory (loss) and of mood often occur in chronic users.

Cocaine (stimulant). Cocaine, crack, and related forms are usually used for stimulation and to produce a sense of euphoria. All forms of cocaine are highly addictive, producing a habit that is extremely difficult to stop. In some individuals, cocaine may produce fatal cardiac rhythm disturbances.

Amphetamines (stimulants): Amphetamines, and their new derivatives “crystal,” “ice,” and Ecstasy, are used for stimulation. These compounds are very addictive and may produce psychotic and violent behaviors.

LSD & PCP (hallucinogens): These chemicals are used to produce “altered states” to escape reality. In changing perceptions, these drugs can result in very poor decision making which can lead to accident or death.  They can cause psychosis in some individuals.

Valium, Barbiturates, etc. (depressants): These and other prescription drugs of this type are usually used for their sedative or hypnotic effects. Some of these drugs are highly addictive, and others can cause seizures (convulsions) in individuals who take them over long periods of time. These drugs can be fatal if mixed with alcohol or other depressants.

Heroin, Codeine, etc. (narcotics): These are some of the most addictive substances known. They produce a high or euphoria. Withdrawal can produce convulsions or even coma. Overdose is common and can result in death. Needle-drug users are in a high-risk group for infection with human immunodeficiency virus, thought to be the cause of AIDS.

Other. Many medications and drugs have the potential for abuse. If you have concerns or questions, ask for professional advice.

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Warning Signs of Possible Substance Abuse

  • Withdrawal from social situations
  • Increased boredom or drowsiness
  • Change in personal appearance (increasingly unkempt or sloppy)
  • Change in friends
  • Easily discouraged; defeatist attitude
  • Low frustration tolerance (outbursts)
  • Violent behavior and vandalism
  • Terse replies to questions or conversation
  • Sad or forlorn expression
  • Lying
  • Poor classroom attendance
  • Dropping grades or poor work
  • Apathy or loss of interest

When such signs appear in friends,


  • Express your concern and caring
  • Be ready to listen
  • Communicate your desire to help
  • Make concrete suggestions as to where the student can find help or how he or she might cope with a given problem
  • Try to get the student to seek professional help
  • Ask for assistance from campus resources
  • Be persistent


  • Take the situation lightly or as a joke
  • Be offended if the student tries to “put you off”
  • Take “I don’t have a problem” as an answer
  • Try to handle the student alone-ask for assistance
  • Lecture about right and wrong
  • Promote guilt feelings about grades or anything else
  • Gossip: speak of it only to those who can help

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