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Chapter 6: Alcohol and Other Drugs

Alcohol and Other Drug Policies / Event Policies for Graduate and Professional Students and Organizations / Event Policies for Undergraduate Students and Organizations / Events with Alcohol Hosted in Residential Spaces / On Campus Events that Include the Sale of Alcohol / Immunity for Seeking Emergency TreatmentHarm Reduction – BASICS  Sanctions / Resources / Health Risks / Warning Signs of Possible Substance Misuse

Vanderbilt University is deeply concerned about the health and welfare of its students. University policies and regulations in general–and alcohol and other drugs policies in particular–reflect that concern. The purpose of University 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 unhealthy 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, distribution, or facilitation of the distribution of alcohol and other drugs 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).

In addition, 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, or use, another person’s prescription medication or for a student to distribute medications to one person that have been prescribed for another. Note that in addition to being violations of University policy, these practices are also felonies under federal statutes. 

To underscore the seriousness with which it takes the issue of health and welfare of its constituent populations, the University will impose 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 other drugs policy. Conditions of continued employment or enrollment may include the completion of an appropriate rehabilitation program and/or active participation in a recovery program.

In addition to the standards of conduct prohibited by law and University policy, students, faculty, and staff are subject to the additional requirements, standards, and procedures promulgated by their respective schools, departments, and organizations. Additional standards of conduct, 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-im08), in the Human Resources policy, and any applicable union contract. Students, faculty, and staff may refer to these documents for details.

Alcohol and Other Drug Policies

The following regulations apply to the possession and/or use of alcoholic beverages or other drugs by individual students and their guests, by groups, by University departments, and by organization's members and invited guests, on or off campus:

  • The legal drinking age in the state of Tennessee is 21 years old.
  • Subject to statutory exceptions available under Tennessee law, alcoholic beverages may not be provided (served, distributed, furnished) to persons under the legal drinking age (21 years old) in the state of Tennessee.
  • Possession, use, distribution, or facilitation of distribution of other drugs or drug paraphernalia is prohibited.  The term distribution includes "sharing" of any drug and does not require the exchange of money.
  • Possession or use of prescription medication prescribed to another person and distribution or facilitation of distribution of a medication prescribed for one person to any other person are also prohibited.  The term distribution includes "sharing" of any prescription drug and does not require the exchange of money.
  • The use of any false identification or identification belonging to another person to purchase or procure alcohol is prohibited.
  • 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, except where expressly permitted by this chapter.
  • Because of the danger that drivers under the influence 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, regardless of age, is prohibited.
  • Alcohol may not be served to an individual that one knows or reasonable should know is intoxicated.
  • Effecting excessive and/or harmful consumption of alcohol through games, peer pressure, subterfuge, or other activities is prohibited.
  • The use of common containers of alcoholic beverages such as kegs, pony kegs, coolers, or punch bowls by undergraduates or at any student organization-sponsored event, to which undergraduates have been invited, or at which they are present ,is prohibited.
  • The use of pure grain alcohol is prohibited.
  • The use of devices, such as funnels, vaporizers, and beer bongs, designed for the rapid consumption of alcohol is prohibited.
  • Drinking games are 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.
  • Liquor and wine are prohibited in all areas of Greek facilities.
  • The only places on campus where students (who must be of legal drinking age) may routinely possess and consume alcoholic beverages are as follows:
    • the rooms and apartments of students in upperclass residences (with the exception of substance-free floors and buildings and Recovery Housing rooms),
    • designated Greek facilities (with the exception of liquor and wine), and
    • The Overcup Oak (beverages sold on the premises, only).
  • Use of undergraduate student organization funds to purchase alcohol is prohibited.
  • The presence of alcohol at all undergraduate student organization recruitment events is prohibited.
  • Student organizations, 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.
  • Notices, posters, flyers, banners, social media posts, email invitations, etc., may not use logos or trademarks of alcoholic beverages, or mention or refer to alcoholic beverages or their availability at an event.
  • The sale of alcoholic beverages on campus, including the sale of tickets that can be traded for alcoholic beverages or the sale of tickets for entry into an event where alcohol is distributed at no additional cost, is prohibited with the exception of occasions for which the Special Event Registration Committee has approved the engagement of a licensed vendor. (See "Events that Include the Sale of Alcohol.")
  • Fundraising events - or "bar nights" in "limited service restaurants" (bars) - as defined by Tennessee statute TCE 57-4-102 - or at any location where money is collected at the door, or through any other arrangement, with an establishment involving financial transactions that circumvent the University's accounting system, are prohibited. In addition, co-sponsorships of any sort with - or from - a business or establishment with alcohol sales accounting for more than 50 percent of total business transactions ("bar" as defined by Tennessee statute TCA 57-4-102) are prohibited.
  • 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 Office of the Dean of Students. Such events must comply with all event management policies, except to the extent that compliance conflicts with an excepted religious practice. 
  • All events at which alcoholic beverages will be consumed must be appropriately registered according to the regulations set forth in this chapter. (See also “Reservations and Event Registration” in Chapter 5, “Student Engagement.”)

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Event Policies for Graduate and Professional Students and Organizations

Graduate and professional students and organizations must register events (on or off campus) at which alcohol will be present with the office of the relevant school’s dean and in Anchor Link at least three weeks in advance of the event and arrangements must be approved by the Special Events Registration Committee, where applicable. The stipulations of event management below may be superseded by additional requirements of the facilities when an event occurs at a location other than the relevant school.

  • If an undergraduate student organization cosponsors an event with a graduate or professional student organization, or if undergraduates are invited or present at an event, the policies governing undergraduate events must be followed for everyone in attendance. In addition, graduate or professional student organizations and their officers are subject to corrective action through the University’s student accountability process if there are violations of the underage drinking law or University policies and regulations at their events.

On Campus Events

Graduate and professional students or student organizations may register an event with alcohol on campus as one of the following depending on the policies of the facility:

    • An event at which alcohol will be present on a "bring-your-own" or B.Y.O.B. basis. Event attendees who have reached the legal drinking age in the state of Tennessee (21 years old) may possess and consume alcoholic beverages at events registered and approved as B.Y.O.B. The beverages at B.Y.O.B. events hosted by graduate or professional student organizations are limited to beer and wine; students and guests are prohibited from bringing liquor.  The recommended quantity of authorized beverage for each event attendee over the legal drinking age is not more that three (3) standard drink units (which is twelve [12] ounces for beer and five [5] ounces for wine), with a maximum limit of six (6) standard drink units. No other alcohol is permitted at the event. If the event does not involve a third-party licensed bartender, event attendees over the legal drinking age who bring their own alcohol must keep the alcohol on their person during the entire event and may not distribute alcohol to others. Glass bottles are prohibited except at those registered events where attendees are required to check their alcoholic beverages with a third-party licensed bartender responsible for distribution throughout the event. On such occasions, the beverage must be transferred to a non-breakable paper or plastic cup for consumption. "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. Policies of the student centers prohibit B.Y.O.B. events, with the exception of events held at the Community Event Space.
    • An event at which alcohol will be provided by the graduate or professional organization and served by student hosts. The beverages at these events hosted by graduate and professional student organizations are limited to beer and wine; liquor is prohibited.  The recommended quantity of authorized beverage is not more that three (3) standard drink units (which is twelve [12] ounces for beer and five [5] ounces for wine), with a maximum limit of six (6) standard drink units. Hosts and servers must not have consumed alcohol or other drugs prior to or during the event or their shift as a server.  The practice of "self-serve" is prohibited.
    • An event at which liquor will be present.  Liquor may only be present and served at an event hosted by graduate or professional student organizations when a third-party licensed bartender is engaged to distribute all alcohol. The expectation is that the quantity of provided beverage will be three (3) standard drink units, which is 1.5 ounces of eighty (80) proof liquor.

Off Campus Events

In keeping with the University's policy prohibiting student organizations from make contractual commitments (whether formal, understood, or implied), student organizations may not hold events at off-campus locations without the express approval of the appropriate adviser and the completion of appropriate contractual documents (where applicable) approved by the relevant dean's office of the Dean of Students or the Dean's designee.  For authorized off-campus events, third-party (and where applicable, licensed) vendors must be engaged for all serviced (i.e., security, identification checks, distribution of alcohol, etc.).

Event Management for Events with Alcohol

The following event management policies apply to all graduate and professional student and student organization events with alcohol at which no undergraduate students will be invited or present:

  • There must be designated primary host and at least on secondary host for every event.  Hosts are responsible for implementing and enforcing all event management policies.  Additional secondary hosts should be designated depending on the the size and scope of the event.
  • On an annual basis, hosts of events with alcohol or any student that will serve alcohol at an event much complete "Host Responsibility Training" through the Center for Student Wellbeing, at least three weeks prior to the first event of the year.
  • Nonalcoholic beverages and food must be provided during the entire period that alcoholic beverages are available. Students organizing the event are responsible for providing both nonalcoholic beverages and food.
  • 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 Events Registration Committee, where applicable, in advance of the event.  Student hosts may serve as security depending on the size and scope of the event.
  • Identification must be checked at all events where alcohol is present, either through security, student hosts, or third-party licensed bartenders.
  • Alcohol bust be kept in a regulate or secured space or area during all events where it is present, except at on campus events designated as B.Y.O.B. during which attendees must keep their alcohol with them at all times.
  • The number of attendees admitted to an event must not exceed the capacity of the designated space.
  • Individual student hosts or officers of an organization hosting an event are responsible for ensuring compliance with University policies and state and local law.  If non-compliant, individual hosts, organizations and/or officers are subject to corrective action through the University's accountability process, and to prosecution by the state of Tennessee, and/or the Metropolitan Government of Nashville/Davidson County.
  • All events where alcohol is present should have signage reminding attendees that identification will be checked and only attendees over 21 years of age are permitted to consume alcohol.

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Event Policies for Undergraduate Students and Organizations

If an undergraduate student or student organization hosts an event, if an undergraduate student cosponsors an event with a graduate or professional student organization, or if undergraduates are invited or present at an event, and alcohol will be present at the event, the following policies apply for everyone in attendance.  Events (on campus or off) at which alcohol will be available must be registered in Anchor Link at least three weeks in advance of the event and arrangements must be approved by the Special Events Registration Committee, where applicable.  Fraternity and sorority events occurring on campus must be registered in Anchor Link with the office of Greek Life, and must comply with the alcohol policies of the pertinent Greek governing body as well as the University.  Student organizations and their officers are subject to corrective action through the University's student accountability process if there are violations of the underage drinking law or University policies and regulations at the events.  Exceptions to the below event management policies may be made at the discretion of the Dean of Students, or the Dean's designee, for campus-wide events such as Rites of Spring, Commodore Quake, and tailgates.

On Campus Events

Sponsoring parties of events at which undergraduates will be in attendance or invited may register an event with alcohol on campus as one of the following depending on the policies of the facility:

  1. An event at which alcohol will be present on a "bring-your-own" or B.Y.O.B. basis.  Undergraduate students who have reached the legal drinking age in the state of Tennessee (21 years old) may possess and consume alcoholic beverages at events registered and approved as B.Y.O.B. The beverage at B.Y.O.B. events (during which undergraduate students are present or invited) is limited to "beer," only, as defined by the Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 57, Chapter 5 (i.e., beer, ale, or other malt beverages, including hard seltzers, having an alcohol content of not more than eight percent [8%] by weight), students and guests are prohibited from bringing liquor, wine, or any other alcoholic beverages to such events. The recommended quantity of authorized beverage for each event attendee over the legal drinking age is not more than three standard drink units (which is twelve [12] ounces for beer), with a maximum limit of six (6) standard drink units. No other alcohol is permitted at the event. Glass bottles are prohibited. All alcohol must be checked with a third-party licensed bartender responsible for the distribution of the beverages throughout the event . A tracking system must be established to ensure alcohol is only distributed to those guests that are of the legal drinking age and checked-in alcohol with the bartender.  "B.Y.O.B.", as shorthand for "Bring Your Own Beverage," may be used on postings, etc., for events that have been registered as B.Y.O.B. during the event registration process.  Policies of the student centers prohibit B.Y.O.B. events, with the exception of events held at the Community Event Space.
  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.)

Off Campus Events

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 express approval of the appropriate adviser and the completion of appropriate contractual documents approved by the Dean of Students of the Dean's designee. A number of registered student organizations with oversight from their national organizations have secured exceptions from the Dean of Students to this approval process.  For authorized off-campus events, third-party (and, where applicable, licensed) vendors must be engaged for all services (i.e., security, identification checks, distribution of alcohol, etc,).

Event Management for Events with Alcohol

The following event management policies apply to all events with alcohol at which undergraduate students will be invited or present:

  • On an annual basis, organizers of events at which alcohol will be available must complete Host Responsibility Training, through the Center for Student Wellbeing, at least three weeks prior to its first event of the year.
  • Identification must be checked at all events where alcohol is present, through third-party security or third-party licensed bartenders.
  • In order to be admitted to an on-campus event, attendees must present their Vanderbilt ID for verification and swipe their own cards with the Anchor Link scanners.  Any guests that are not Vanderbilt students are required to show an official form of identification and their name will be recorded alongside the Vanderbilt student with whom they are a guest.
  • The number of attendees in attendance at an event must not exceed the capacity limits of the designated space.
  • All alcohol must be distributed from one location.
  • Open containers of alcoholic beverages should not be permitted to leave the event.
  • 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 Events Registration Committee in advance of the event, where applicable.
  • There must only be one entrance to an event.  All members and guests must go through the designated entrance to be signed into the party.
  • Nonalcoholic beverages and food must be provided during the entire period that alcoholic beverages are available. Students organizing the event are responsible for providing nonalcoholic beverages and food.
  • All events where alcohol is present should have signage reminding attendees that identification will be checked and only attendees over 21 years of age are permitted to consume alcohol.
  • Sober monitors must be stationed throughout the event to ensure event management procedures are followed. The number of monitors is to be determined based on the size of the event and the space in which the event is held.
  • Individual student hosts or officers of an organization hosting an event are responsible for ensuring compliance with University policies and state and local law. If non-compliant, individual hosts, organizations and/or officers are subject to corrective action through the University's accountability process, ant to prosecution by the state of Tennessee, and/or the Metropolitan Government of Nashville/Davidson County.

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Events with Alcohol Hosted in Residential Spaces

Individuals hosting a gathering in their assigned residential space must register the gathering when the number of people at the event will exceed the number of occupants of the apartment/suite plus ten (10), regardless of whether alcohol is present.  The registration form is located on each residential community's individual Anchor Link page and must be submitted no later than 24 hours prior to the proposed event, or by 12pm on Friday (for weekend gatherings). See the "Party Registration" section of Chapter 4.  Additionally, the following event management policies apply to any gathering at which alcohol will be present:

  • A majority of the students assigned to the residence hall space must be of legal age to drink alcoholic beverages in order for alcohol to be present at an event in a residential space.
  • On an annual basis, hosts of events at which alcohol will be available must complete Host Responsibility Training through the Center for Student Wellbeing at least three weeks prior to its first event of the year.
  • Alcohol must be present on a "bring-your-own" or B.Y.O.B. basis, and hosts are not permitted to serve alcohol to guests.
  • Identification must be checked by student hosts for those who bring alcohol to the event.
  • Alcohol must be kept inside the apartment/suite with doors shut.
  • Gatherings must be by invite only. Hosts are required to turn away interested persons who are not invited.
  • No events are permitted to take place in residential spaces during quiet hours. (See "Quiet Hours" in Chapter 4, "Residential Life.")
  • Nonalcoholic beverages and food must be provided during the entire period that alcoholic beverages are available. Students organizing the event are responsible for providing both nonalcoholic beverages and food.
  • Residents of the host apartment/suite are responsible for ensuring compliance with University policies and state and local law. If non-compliant, all residents of the host apartment/suite are subject to corrective action through the University's accountability process, and to prosecution by the state of Tennessee, and/or the Metropolitan Government of Nashville/Davidson County.

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On Campus Events that Include Sale of Alcohol

The sale of alcoholic beverages is prohibited on campus with the exception of occasions for which the Special Events Registration Committee has approved the engagement of a licensed vendor. This prohibition includes the sale of tickets that can be traded for alcoholic beverages, or the sale of tickets or t-shirts required for entry into an event where alcohol is distributed at no additional cost, or any scheme masking the distribution of alcohol. If an event has been approved by the Special Events Registration Committee to include the sale of alcoholic beverages, arrangements must be made for a third-party vendor to sell alcohol.  Staff of the student centers will assist student organizers of events in obtaining third-party vendors. The arrangements with the vendor must be reviewed by the Special Events 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. Student organizations or other events sponsors are prohibited from obtaining alcohol for resale by the vendor and are prohibited from receiving proceeds from the sale of alcohol.

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Immunity for Seeking 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, it is University policy that a student seeking medical attention for intoxication or overdose may be eligible for immunity for the use or underage possession of alcohol or other drugs and the resulting overdose or intoxication, provided that the sole reason the student’s intoxication or overdose was discovered by University officials was through the seeking of medical care by the affected student or by another student (excluding a student who serves as a resident adviser or is serving in another official role on behalf of the University at the time of the incident).

Immunity for alcohol violations extends to individuals seeking help for the intoxicated student. Students granted immunity 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 the revocation of immunity.

Seeking emergency treatment for one who has overdosed or become intoxicated does not relieve a group or organization of responsibility for a violation of policy, such as providing alcohol to an underage person resulting in the intoxication for which emergency treatment is sought. However, the fact that an organization sought help for an intoxicated student will be considered favorably in determining any sanction for policy violations.

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Harm Reduction – BASICS

Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students (BASICS) is a process administered by the Center for Student Wellbeing for providing helpful information to students about their use of alcohol and other drugs.  Following a “harm-reduction” approach, the program seeks to motivate students to reduce the risk of adverse consequences from use of alcohol and other drugs.

If there is substantial risk of further substance-related or mental health concerns, a referral is made to the University Counseling Center.

The campus resource for students or campus professionals who want to learn more about talking to students about alcohol and other drugs is the Center for Student Wellbeing 615-322-0480.

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Sanctions

The purpose of any sanction and accompanying accountability action plan for a violation of University policy is to educate and prompt reflection on the part of the student or student organization, effect voluntary compliance with the policy, and ensure the safety and well-being of members of the University community.

Vanderbilt University will impose sanctions on students or student organizations (See also “Sanctions” in Chapter 3, “Student Accountability”), and may also make referral for state or federal prosecution, for violation of its alcohol and other drugs policy. With the exception of expulsion, sanctions may be accompanied by an accountability action plan. 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 or organization’s previous record, honesty and cooperation, and the seriousness of the offense will be taken into account in the determination of sanction.

University Sanctions for Students

The minimum sanction for simple purchase, possession, or consumption of alcohol in violation of University policy is an educational conference for the first offense. The completion of an appropriate assessment will also be required.

The presumptive sanction for first-offense intoxication is disciplinary probation. Standard indicators of drinking to the level of intoxication may include lack of balance, loss of coordination, confusion, slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, odor of intoxicant, etc.

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

Unlawful provision, distribution, or sale of alcohol by a student in violation of University 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 presumptive sanction for a student who illegally distributes alcohol to an underage student will be disciplinary probation for the first offense. Persons who unlawfully furnish alcoholic beverages to students who are not of legal drinking age may also be held responsible for personal injuries or property damages resulting from misconduct committed by underage, intoxicated students.

Distribution or facilitation of distribution of illegal drugs (including unlawful distribution of prescription medication) may result in suspension or expulsion for a first offense; unlawful distribution includes incidents in which no money is exchanged. In addition, the possession of controlled substances or other drugs in such quantities as to create a presumption of possession with the intent to distribute on or off campus is a serious violation that may result in immediate suspension or expulsion. Evidence that a student has distributed drugs is grounds for interim suspension from the University and/or expulsion from University housing pending the findings of accountability proceedings. Students found to have distributed drugs to others may also be held responsible for personal injuries or property damages resulting from misconduct committed by the students under the influence of the distributed substances.

The presumptive sanction for a third violation of alcohol or other drugs policies is suspension.

Violations involving behavior that injures persons, that damages property, or that injures or damages the community at-large, will increase the presumptive strength of the sanction given.

In addition, 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 standards and procedures found in Chapter 3, “Student Accountability.”

University Sanctions for Organizations

The minimum sanction for a violation of event registration or management policies by a student organization is an educational conference for the first offense.

The presumptive sanction for student organizations that provide alcohol to those not of legal drinking age, whether through direct purchase or other group activities, is probation, during which time the organization will not be permitted to host or participate in any events, on or off campus, where alcohol is present.

Student organizations that unlawfully furnish alcoholic beverages to students who are not of legal drinking age, may also be held responsible for personal injuries or property damages resulting from misconduct committed by underage, intoxicated students.

In addition, sanctions will be imposed for misconduct that results from the provision or use of alcoholic beverages or other drugs. Student organizations will also be held responsible for any damages that result from their misconduct. These sanctions will be imposed consistent with standards and procedures found in Chapter 3, “Student Accountability.”

Accountability Action Plans

With the exception of expulsion, sanctions may be accompanied by an accountability action plan to help students and organizations understand the potential consequences of policy violations and improve decision-making.

Accountability action plans for violations of alcohol and other drugs policies can range from assessment to individualized treatment plans, and may include one or more of the following components:

  1. Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test (AUDIT), 
  2. Cannabis Use Disorder Identification Test (CUDIT),
  3. evaluation through BASICS at the Center for Student Wellbeing, or extensive clinical assessment at the University Counseling Center,
  4. participation in an individualized treatment plan at the University Counseling Center to address substance use and/or co-occurring mental health disorders when indicated by the results of the evaluation,
  5. required attendance at alcohol or other drug education seminars,
  6. implementation of an alcohol or other drug educational program for peers,
  7. completion of educational programs or on-line tutorials,
  8. drug testing,
  9. research or reflection essays,
  10. restitution, or
  11. letters of apology.

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 and over the age of 18), 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 as 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. §§ 1-3-113, 39-15-404, 40-35-11, 57-5-301.) The offense of public intoxication is a Class C Misdemeanor punishable by 11 hours of community service, possible revocation of driver’s license, imprisonment of not more than thirty days or a fine of not more than $50, or both. (T.C.A. § 39-17-310.) Under Tennessee law, the offense of possession or casual exchange of a controlled substance (such as marijuana) is a Class A Misdemeanor punishable by eleven months twenty-nine days of imprisonment and/or a fine of $2,500). A third and subsequent offense of possession of 1/2 ounce or less of marijuana is punishable by 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 person, and the older person knows that the younger person is under twenty-one years of age, then the offense is classified as a felony. Possession of more than 1/2 ounce 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. (T.C.A. §§ 39-17-417, 39-17-418; 21 U.S.C. § 801, et seq.)

State penalties for possession of substantial quantities of a controlled substance or for manufacturing or distribution of a controlled substance range from 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.

After one prior drug conviction: At least fifteen days in prison, not to exceed two years, and fine of at least $2,500.

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.

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.

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. § 844a

Any individual who knowingly possesses a controlled substance in a personal use amount shall be liable to the United States for a civil penalty in an amount not to exceed $10,000 for each such violation.

21 U.S.C. § 862

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 or ammunition.

Miscellaneous

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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Resources

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 misuse, 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 they can receive assistance:

  • The Resident Adviser (RA), Head Resident, or Residential Experience professional is available to listen to students with such problems and make an appropriate referral if necessary.
  • The Office of Student Care Coordination can provide information and assist in connecting students with appropriate resources or treatment providers.  
  • The Center for Student Wellbeing can provide information, assessments, resources, and referrals. Additionally, Vanderbilt Recovery Support offers student-led, anonymous, and discreet weekly support meetings.
  • The University Counseling Center has a team of alcohol and other drug specialists available for assessment, specialized counseling, and treatment.
  • The Student Health Center has professionals who can assist in treating medical complications and in identifying appropriate resources.
  • Students may wish to talk to someone in the Office of the University Chaplain and Religious Life.
  • The Vanderbilt Institute for Treatment of Addiction (VITA) offers specialized treatment programs.

These campus and community resources are available and ready to assist. Calls will be handled with respect for privacy.

  • Your Assistant Director and Area Coordinator
  • Your Academic Dean
  • Your own physician/psychiatrist/psychologist
  • Office of Student Care Coordination 615-343-9355
  • Center for Student Wellbeing 615-322-0480
  • Vanderbilt Recovery Support 615-322-0480
  • Student Health Center 615-322-2427
  • University Counseling Center 615-322-2571
  • Office of the University Chaplain and Religious Life 615-322-2457
  • Office of Housing and Residential Experience 615-322-2591
  • International Student and Scholar Services 615-322-2753
  • Emergency Room (VUH) 615-322-3391
  • Vanderbilt Behavioral Health 615-320-7770
  • AA (call Friendship House, 202 23rd Avenue North, telephone 615-327-3909, for meeting times)

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Health Risks

A general concern for all substances that alter self control or level of awareness is the risk of exposure to physical risks such as sexually transmitted infections, sexual assault, and dangerous decision making such as choosing to drive while under the influence. See also definitions and clarifications in Chapter 7, "Sexual Misconduct and Intimate Partner Violence." Perpetrators of sexual assault may use alcohol and other drugs to incapacitate their victims, intentionally.

Effects of High-Risk/Binge Drinking

Acute:  High-risk or binge drinking can result in frequent colds, reduced resistance to infection, and increased risk of pneumonia; aggressive, irrational or violent behavior, depression, and anxiety.  The Center for Disease Control lists unintentional injury as the number one cause of death for individuals ages 15-24; impaired sensation leading to falls and driving under the influence are two contributing factors. Alcohol consumption causes a number of marked changes in behavior. It is important to recognize that individuals absorb alcohol at different rates leading to variable ranges of alcohol content in the body. Low to moderate levels of alcohol may also increase the incidence of impulsive actions potentially contributing to negative social and academic consequences. Moderate to high levels of alcohol cause marked impairments in higher mental functions, severely altering a person’s ability to problem solve, to process information and to remember information. Very high levels cause respiratory depression and death. If combined with other depressants of the central nervous system such as benzodiazepines, much lower doses of alcohol will produce the effects just described.

Chronic:  Genetic predisposition, beginning use early in life, mental illness, trauma, and repeated long-term use of alcohol can lead to addiction.  Alcohol interferes with the brain’s communication pathways, and can affect the way the brain looks and works.  These disruptions can cause changes in mood and behavior, an inability to think clearly and move with coordination, temperature dysregulation, blackouts, sleep interference, loss of memory, and in extreme cases decreased brain volume. Additional potential long-term effects of high-risk drinking include cancer of the throat, mouth, and breast; liver damage, and stroke.

Women who drink alcohol during pregnancy may give birth to infants with fetal alcohol syndrome. These infants may have abnormalities such as deficits in impulse control, and impaired concentrating, affecting academic performance, and be at risk for 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

The National Institute on Drug Abuse website features a page on the health effects of a number of drugs. To assist the public in keeping current on drug related issues, the NIDA website also features a page on emerging drugs.

Illegal (Non-prescribed) Drugs:

Marijuana:   Marijuana can produce an altered sense of reality, poor coordination of movement, lowered reaction time, and study difficulties due to the reduced ability to learn and retain information. Individuals can also experience panic attacks, anxiety, hallucinations, and psychosis. 

Synthetic Cannabinoids :  Chemically related to THC, the active ingredient in cannabis, these drugs may cause the individuals who use them to experience high blood pressure, agitation, anxiety, nausea, vomiting, seizure, paranoia, and violent behavior.

Cocaine (stimulant):   Cocaine, crack, and related forms are highly addictive stimulant drugs.  Short-term effects include increased heart rate and blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, seizure, and coma.  In combination with alcohol there is an increased risk of overdose and sudden death.

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

  • MDMA (Ecstasy/Molly): These synthetic psychoactive drugs can cause long-lasting confusion, depression, and a sharp rise in body temperature leading to liver, kidney, or heart failure and death.  
  • Bath salts(Purple Wave, Vanilla Sky, or Bliss): These synthetic powder products contain various amphetamine-like chemicals. Many side effects have been reported varying from agitation, high blood pressure, increased pulse, chest pain, to hallucinations, suicidal thoughts, to psychotic and violent behavior.

LSD and PCP (hallucinogens):   These chemicals create a distortion of an individual’s ability to recognize reality. Use can cause delusions, paranoia, and at high levels, suicidal thoughts along with psychosis in some individuals. The long-term effects of PCP use include memory loss and depression. The negative effects of both PCP and LSD may continue after the drug is out of the system.

Heroin (narcotics):   These are among some of the most addictive substances known.  They produce a high or euphoria. Withdrawal can produce cramping, severe muscle aches, vomiting, diarrhea, fever and runny nose, sweating and cold sweats, and severe insomnia.  Overdose is common and can result in death. Use of a shared needle can increase the risk of contracting HIV, hepatitis, and other infectious diseases.

Prescription Drugs:

Medications and prescribed drugs are safe when used as prescribed for clinical conditions. However, many prescribed drugs have the potential for misuse when used recreationally. Those listed below are some of the most frequently misused, and can lead to dependence. When misused, these drugs can be dangerous.

  • Adderall, Concerta, Ritalin, etc. are stimulants and controlled by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). These drugs are often prescribed for students who have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The risk from misuse of these drugs ranges from lack of sleep, high body temperature and irregular heartbeat to anger and hallucinations (psychosis) with severely disorganized thinking. For individuals abusing these stimulants, abrupt withdrawal may lead to significant mood changes including depression with a risk of self harm.
  • Codeine, Hydrocodone (Lortab and Vicodin), and Oxycodone (Percocet and OxyContin) are medications that are prescribed for severe pain. Use can cause drowsiness, nausea, confusion, addiction, and in overdose, may cause slowed breathing and death.
  • Xanax, Valium, and other benzodiazepine  drugs are not recommended for ongoing management of anxiety. Use of all benzodiazepine compounds can lead to psychological and physiological dependence.  Symptoms associated with withdrawal from these drugs can include seizures. In combination with alcohol, both heart rate and breathing may slow to a degree that can lead to death.

How can you help prevent prescription drug misuse?

  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist about your medication, especially if you are unsure about its effects.
  • Keep your doctor informed about all medications you are taking, including over-the-counter medications.
  • Read the information your pharmacist provides before starting to take medications.
  • Take your medication(s) as prescribed, and do not combine with alcohol or other drugs.
  • Keep all prescription medications secured at all times and properly dispose of any unused medications.
  • Do not share your medications with others, or consume medications prescribed for others.

If you have concerns or questions regarding the use and/or abuse of these prescription medications or others, ask for professional advice.

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Warning Signs of Possible Substance Misuse

  • Withdrawal from others
  • Loss of pleasure in everyday activities 
  • Change in personal appearance (increasingly unkempt or sloppy)
  • Change in friends
  • Easily discouraged; defeatist attitude
  • Low frustration tolerance (outbursts)
  • Unpredictable behavior and/or destructive behavior
  • Terse replies to questions or conversation
  • Sad or forlorn expression
  • Lying
  • Poor classroom attendance
  • Decline in academic performance
  • Apathy or loss of interest
  • Change in sleep pattern ranging from excessive sleep to inability to sleep
  • Frequent excuses for absences from planned activities
  • Change in weight or eating behavior. 

When such signs appear in friends,

DO

  • Express your concern and caring using "I" statements
  • Be ready to listen
  • Communicate your desire to help
  • Make concrete suggestions as to where the student can find help or how the student might cope with a given problem
  • Try to get the student to seek professional help
  • Ask for assistance from campus resources
  • Be persistent
  • Understand that the definition of friendship includes making difficult decisions that may anger your friends

DON’T

  • Take the situation lightly or as a joke
  • Be offended if the student tries to avoid you
  • 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 feelings of guilt about grades or anything else
  • Gossip: speak of it only to those who can help
  • Excuse behavior because “everybody does it”

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