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Health Risks of Alcohol and Other Drugs
(Adapted, in part, from U.S. Department of Education, Schools Without Drugs)
Although only a small number of university students develop chronic alcohol problems, a substantial percentage of students are involved in incidents of inappropriate drinking, or binge drinking, which is defined as consuming five drinks in a row for men and four for women within two hours. This behavior results in nausea and vomiting, driving while intoxicated, hangovers, fights, vandalism and/or alcoholrelated arrests. The vast majority of all student arrests, campus disciplinary problems, academic difficulties and campus vandalism are alcohol related. By controlling the amount of alcohol consumed at any one time, the number of such incidents can be greatly reduced. In addition, individuals in the immediate community are likely to experience difficulties as a result of the drinking behaviors of others.
Consumption of more than two averagesized servings of alcohol within several hours will produce measurable impairment of motor coordination and reasoning. The more alcohol consumed, the greater the impairment. Although many states, including Indiana, set a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent by volume as a presumptive level of intoxication for certain purposes, intoxication and impairment begin at a much lower level. It is safest to totally avoid alcohol consumption when planning to operate a vehicle or engage in risky recreational activities. At intoxication levels of 0.20 percent BAC and above, individuals risk loss of consciousness, nausea and vomiting, injuries, and even overdose death. Although the average lethal dose is about 0.40 percent, overdose deaths have occurred in some situations with BACs near 0.20 percent.
Long-Term Heavy Drinking
Drinking to the point of intoxication one to two times a week or more frequently over a period of several years can pose serious health consequences, including liver disease and cirrhosis, circulatory problems and cardiomyopathy, nervoussystem damage and polyneuropathy, alcohol dependence, and psychosis. Alcohol abuse can increase the risk of certain types of cancers, including cancer of the tongue, mouth, pharynx, esophagus, larynx and liver. The cancerproducing effects of alcohol abuse increase with the use of tobacco. Current research indicates that men and women do not respond to alcohol in the same way. Women can expect substantially more impairment than can men at equivalent doses.
Narcotics initially produce a feeling of euphoria that often is followed by drowsiness, nausea and vomiting. Users also may experience constricted pupils and watery and itching eyes. An overdose may produce slow and shallow breathing, clammy skin, convulsions, coma and possibly death. Tolerance to narcotics develops rapidly, and dependence is likely. Addiction in pregnant women can lead to premature, stillborn or addicted infants who experience severe withdrawal symptoms.
Marijuana is a heavily abused narcotic. Use of marijuana may impair or reduce shortterm memory and comprehension, alter sense of time and reduce ability to perform tasks requiring concentration and coordination, such as driving a car. Motivation and cognition may be altered, making the acquisition of new information difficult. Marijuana can also produce paranoia and psychosis. Because users often inhale the unfiltered smoke deeply, marijuana is damaging to the lungs and pulmonary system. Marijuana contains more cancercausing agents than tobacco.
Heroin affects the central nervous system by relieving pain and inducing sleep. It may also cause constricted pupils, nausea, and respiratory depression, which in its extremes can result in death. Heroin activates brain regions that produce euphoric sensations and brain regions that produce physical dependence — hence its notorious ability to produce both psychological and physical addiction. Its addictiveness is characterized by persistent craving for the drug, tolerance (the need for larger and larger doses to get the same results), and painful and dangerous withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms include panic, nausea, muscle cramps, chills, and insomnia. Heroin use during pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth. Infants exposed to heroin in the womb go through withdrawal at birth and exhibit various developmental problems. Besides the danger of overdose, addicts are susceptible to malnutrition, hepatitis, pneumonia, and AIDS.
Illegal drugs are defined in terms of their chemical formulas. To circumvent legal restrictions, underground chemists modify the molecular structure of certain drugs to produce analogs known as designer drugs. These drugs can be several hundred times stronger than the drugs they are designed to imitate. Analogs of amphetamines and methamphetamines cause nausea, blurred vision, chills or sweating, and faintness. Psychological effects include anxiety, depression and paranoia. As little as one dose can cause brain damage. The analogs of phencyclidine cause illusions, hallucinations, and impaired perception.
Ecstasy users experience pupil dilation, jaw clenching, shutter vision, general restlessness, loss of appetite/taste sensation changes, lack of concentration, tingling, sweaty palms, increased heart rate, mood swings, temporary depression, weight loss, and loss of consciousness. Heavy use has been linked to speedlike symptoms of paranoia, and in some cases, liver damage and heart attacks.
Stimulants can cause increased heart and respiratory rates, elevated blood pressure, dilated pupils and decreased appetite. In addition, users may experience sweating, headache, blurred vision, dizziness, sleeplessness and anxiety.
Cocaine is the most potent stimulant of natural origin. Chronic use of cocaine through snorting can ulcerate the mucus membrane of the nose. Injecting cocaine with unsterile equipment can cause AIDS, hepatitis and other diseases. Preparation of freebase, which involves the use of volatile solvents, can result in death or injury from fire or explosion. Cocaine can produce psychological and physical dependency; tolerance develops rapidly. Crack or freebase rock is extremely addictive,and its effects are felt within 10 seconds. The physical effects include dilated pupils, increased pulse rate, elevated blood pressure, insomnia, loss of appetite, tactile hallucinations, paranoia and seizures. The use of any form of cocaine can cause death by disrupting the brain’s control of the heart and respiration.
Amphetamines can cause a rapid or irregular heartbeat, tremors, loss of coordination and even physical collapse. An amphetamine injection creates a sudden increase in blood pressure, which can result in stroke, very high fever or heart failure. Additionally, users report feeling restless, anxious and moody. High doses intensify the effects. Those who use large amounts of amphetamines over a long period of time can develop an amphetamine psychosis that includes hallucinations, delusions and paranoia.
Methamphetamine (Meth) is a highly potent and addictive drug that affects the central nervous system. Meth releases high levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter, which stimulates brain cells and enhances mood and body movement. Immediate effects of meth include decreased appetite, irregular heartbeat, hypothermia, and elevated blood pressure. Effects of chronic use include addiction, mood disturbances, insomnia, extreme anorexia, tremors, severe dental problems, and violent behavior. Chronic use may additionally lead to brain damage. Using needles, syringes, and other equipment to inject meth increases the risk of contracting HIV or Hepatitis B and C. This drug is found in many forms including white powder and clear, crystallike chunks (referred to as “crystal meth”). In the powder form, meth dissolves easily in water and alcohol.
Diet pills may contain a substance chemically related to amphetamines. The abuse of diet pills can cause symptoms similar to those from using amphetamines. Diet pills, along with laxatives and vomitinducing substances, are often used by individuals with eating disorders and can be fatal.
Energy drinks, while legal, are considered addictive stimulants that can be abused. Energy drinks mixed with alcohol or with other drugs produce a heightened sensation. Combining alcohol and stimulant drinks can mask how intoxicated an individual feels and can give the person the impression he/she is not impaired. Both energy drinks and alcohol are dehydrating. Dehydration can hinder the body’s ability to metabolize alcohol and will increase the toxicity.
The effects of depressants are, in many ways, similar to the effects of alcohol. Small amounts can produce calmness and relaxed muscles, but larger doses can cause slurred speech, staggering and altered perception. Very large doses can cause respiratory depression, coma and death. The combination of depressants and alcohol can multiply the effects of the drugs, thereby multiplying the risks. The use of depressants can cause both physical and psychological dependence. Regular use over time may result in a tolerance to the drug, leading the user to increase the quantity consumed. When regular users suddenly stop taking large doses, they may develop withdrawal symptoms that include restlessness, insomnia, anxiety, convulsions or death.
Rohypnol is a very potent tranquilizer similar to, but many times stronger than, Valium. The drug produces an amnesialike effect, muscle relaxation and a slowing of psychomotor responses. Rohypnol, also called the “date rape drug” or “roofies”, is often combined with alcohol, marijuana or cocaine to produce a rapid and very dramatic “high.” This may lead to respiratory depression, aspiration or death. Even if the drug is used by itself, users may appear extremely intoxicated with slurred speech, no coordination, swaying and bloodshot eyes. This drug is often given to individuals, without their consent, in order to produce confusion and lower inhibitions.
Research has shown that prescription drug abuse is an increasing concern in the United States, with two leading abused prescription drugs being OxyContin and Ritalin.
OxyContin is a morphinelike narcotic that contains a high dose of oxycodone and is prescribed to treat chronic pain. Other drugs containing oxycodone include Percodan and Percocet; these also have a history of abuse. Research has shown that users tend to mix OxyContin with other painkillers, marijuana, or alcohol. Shortterm effects include blocked pain messages and drowsiness. Large doses can cause severe respiratory complications and possibly even death.
Methylphenidate (Ritalin) is a prescribed stimulant used to treat attentiondeficit disorder/hyperactivity disorder. It produces an effect more potent than caffeine but less potent than amphetamines.
Although the drug is prescribed orally, users will also snort and inject Ritalin. Misuse is characterized by students attempting to suppress appetite and remain awake, particularly to study. Very high doses of Ritalin can lead to irregular heartbeat, high body temperature, cardiovascular system failure, and seizure. If Ritalin is dissolved in water and injected, it can block small blood vessels, damage lungs, and impair eyesight.
PCP users report persistent memory problems and speech difficulties. Some of these effects may last for up to a year after prolonged daily use. Mood disorders, depression, anxiety and violent behavior may also occur. In later stages of chronic use, users often exhibit paranoid and violent behavior and experience hallucinations. Large doses may cause experience panic, confusion, suspicion, anxiety and loss of control. Delayed effects, or flashbacks, can occur even after use has ceased.
LSD use can have longlasting or even permanent psychoemotional effects. LSD experiences can range from indescribably ecstatic to extraordinarily difficult; many difficult experiences (or “bad trips”) result from a panicked user feeling that he or she has been permanently severed from reality.
Anabolic steroids are often misused in an attempt to increase muscle strength or bulk. Even small amounts of anabolic steroids may result in serious health consequences such as liver problems, high blood pressure, changes in blood chemistry, hardening of the arteries and weakness in heart muscle tissue. Breast, prostate, or bladder cancer are also potential health consequences associated with anabolic steroid use. Steroid use by adolescents may stop bone growth resulting in smaller, shorter body size. Other side effects often include acne, decreased immunesystem response, aggressiveness, and personality changes. Males who use steroids may suffer from premature baldness, decreased testicle size and function, lower sperm count, decreased sex drive, and unwanted body hair.
Counseling, Treatment, and Rehabilitation Resources
The University of Notre Dame provides a variety of resources to assist students with learning about alcohol and drugs. Support is available for students both on and off campus.
For students who want to talk to someone about their choices around alcohol and drug use, or the impact of others' choices on them, there are many on campus resources to take advantage of.
McDonald Center for Student Well-Being
The McDonald Center cultivates a healthy campus environment where students thrive through the integration of mind, body, and spirit consistent with the Holy Cross charism of the University of Notre Dame. Services offered by the McDonald Center include:
Alcohol Screenings: One-on-one alcohol screenings include a brief interview with students to discuss risk reduction and subsequent alcohol education. Based on the results of the alcohol screening conducted by a McWell staff member, students may participate in BASICS (Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students). To schedule an appointment go to https://mtrionfe.youcanbook.me or email email@example.com.
BASICS: BASICS, Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students, is a nationally recognized best practice tool for alcohol interventions with multiple research studies supporting its effectiveness. BASICS is delivered in a 1:1 educational intervention model rooted in harm reduction that emphasizes personal responsibility and self-efficacy. BASICS uses Motivational Interviewing to help students reconsider their drinking habits and patterns. Motivational Interviewing is a non-judgemental, collaborative approach to the conversation around alcohol. The process involves an alcohol screening, online education and feedback discussion generally delivered over two sessions with a trained staff member. To schedule an appointment go to https://mtrionfe.youcanbook.me or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alcohol eCheckUpToGo:The Alcohol eCheckUpToGo is an interactive web survey that allows students to enhance their overall well-being through risk reduction around alcohol. Students enter information about their drinking patterns and receive feedback about their use of alcohol to use to make healthier choices. After accessing Alcohol eCheckUpToGo, students are prompted to enter information about: demographic information, drinking habits, and family history. Based on the information shared, Alcohol eCheckUpToGo calculates a number of variables and compares responses to national college norms and provides students with personalized feedback.
Marijuana eCheckUpToGo: The Marijuana eCheckUpToGo is an interactive web survey that allows university students to enhance their overall well-being through risk reduction around marijuana. The Marijuana eCheckUpToGo will provide students with personalized feedback about: individual pattern of marijuana use; risk patterns; aspirations and goals; and helpful resources
University Counseling Center
The University Counseling Center (UCC) provides counseling and crisis intervention to the students of the University, consultation services to the campus community, and supervision and training opportunities for future psychologists. While sensitive to the unique characteristics of an intelligent, highly motivated, predominantly Catholic student body, we remain committed to the practice of psychology as determined by the ethical code of the American Psychological Association and the laws of the state of Indiana. We affirm diversity and are committed to creating an environment that recognizes the inherent value and dignity of each person.
Alcohol Screening: Students are invited to utilize a free and anonymous online substance use screening.
Alcohol and Other Drug Assessments: The UCC offers individual assessments to Notre Dame students, which include detailed feedback about one's alcohol and/or other drug use. Typically involving 1-2 sessions, an assessment may be requested as a stand alone service, or recommended following an UCC intake which includes the AUDIT, a measure of substance use. Assessments are instrumental in assisting students to understand different factors (e.g., level of motivation for change, severity of use, family history) in helping to inform a treatment recommendation. Visit ucc.nd.edu or call (574) 631-7336 for more information or to schedule an appointment.
Individual Counseling: The UCC offers individual counseling appointments that allow students to meet with a counselor to address a wide range of concerns, including alcohol and other drug use, the impact of choices about alcohol and other drugs, or the effects of a family member's or significant other's substance use upon the student. Visit ucc.nd.edu or call (574) 631-7336 for more information or to schedule an appointment.
Group Counseling: Each semester, the UCC offers a variety of group therapy experiences. In group therapy, students can count on the expertise of the counselors who facilitate the group, and can also get to know other students who are experiencing similar issues. There are a wide variety of groups for students to explore, and students with concerns about their alcohol or drug use or the consequences of their use can speak to a counselor to find the best fit. Visit ucc.nd.edu or call (574) 631-7336 for more information, a current list of groups, or to schedule an appointment.
For students who want to explore treatment and counseling resources off-campus in the local community, the South Bend area offers the following options:
Addictions Recovery Centers
Addictions Recovery Centers provides outpatient services that are related to the misuse of one or more substances. Enrollment in one of our programs requires a current clinical evaluation from a recognized addictions provider. Program length and intensity is aligned to the severity of the identified problem. Contact Addictions Recovery Centers for more information.
Alcohol & Addictions Resource Center
The Alcohol & Addictions Resource Center (AARC) is a community-based, local not-for-profit agency that has been in our community for over 50 years. AARC does provide objective and independent clinical addictions assessment services. AARC does not provide alcohol or other drug treatment services. Contact AARC to schedule an independent addictions assessment.
Life Treatment Centers
Life Treatment Centers, Inc. is a non-profit, community-based organization that has served the chemical dependency needs of the St. Joseph County/North Central Indiana community since 1972. Life Treatment Centers has expanded from solely detoxification services, to a Comprehensive list of treatment services. Contact Life Treatment Centers for more information.
Oaklawn Addictions Services
Oaklawn provides mental health and addiction treatment for children, adolescents and adults throughout the Michiana community. Our specialized services range from skills training and case management to outpatient therapy and inpatient care. Contact Oaklawn for more information.
State Law and University Standards of Conduct
Violations of alcohol and drug policies and laws will result in a referral to the University Conduct Process
could include warnings, alcohol and/or drug assessments, education, disciplinary probation, dismissal with the opportunity to apply for readmission and permanent dismissal. Student organizations also may be sanctioned for violations of these policies and laws.
Students found responsible for possession or use of illegal drugs or controlled substances, the unauthorized possession or misuse of prescription drugs, or the possession of drug paraphernalia may face dismissal from the University. Students found responsible for distribution of illegal drugs and substances, including the illicit redistribution of prescription drugs, may face permanent dismissal from the University.
Under Indiana State Law, it is unlawful to possess, use, or distribute cocaine, narcotics and other illicit controlled substances, including synthetic cannabinoids and salvia (IC 35-48-4-1 through IC 35-48-4-11). It is also unlawful in the State of Indiana to possess, deal, manufacture or design paraphernalia that is intended to be used primarily for introducing controlled substances into one’s body (IC 35-48-4-8.1 through IC 35-48-4-8.5).
Students should be aware of Indiana State Law. In summary, the Indiana Codes provide for criminal penalties for a minor who possesses alcoholic beverages, consumes them or transports them on a public highway (IC 7.1-5-7-7). It is also unlawful for a person to sell, barter, exchange, provide or furnish an alcoholic beverage to a minor (IC 7.1-5-7-8). It is unlawful for a minor to be in a tavern, bar or other public place where alcoholic beverages are sold or furnished (IC 7.1-5-7-10). However, there are exceptions which permit the minor to enter such facilities but not to drink alcoholic beverages, including a civic center, bowling alley, sports arena and that part of a hotel or restaurant separate from the room which contains the bar at which alcoholic beverages are sold or dispensed (IC 7.1-5-7-11).
A minor may not make a false statement of age or present false or fraudulent evidence of majority or identity . . . for the purpose of ordering, purchasing, attempting to purchase or otherwise procuring or attempting to procure an alcoholic beverage (IC 7.1-5-7-1). It is a misdemeanor for a person to sell, give or furnish to a minor false or fraudulent evidence of majority or identity with the intent to violate a provision of this title (IC 7.1-5-7-2).
Students enrolled in international study programs must obey all laws and ordinances of countries in which they may live or travel during participation in a Notre Dame international study program. Students should be aware that the possession and/or use of illegal drugs can have very grave consequences in foreign countries, often resulting in severe punishment such as long prison terms.
It is each student’s responsibility to understand Indiana law as outlined above and also to abide by University regulations regarding the use or possession of alcohol. The regulations are binding on all students: undergraduate, graduate, and professional.
Drugs other than alcohol can create legal risks for those who use, possess, or transfer them to others. The following is a brief summary of those risks. The summary below is intended to provide an overview of some of the sections relevant to University students and employees. It is not intended as a substitute for professional legal advice. Those needing legal advice should consult an attorney.
Laws Concerning Other Drugs
Controlled substances are tightly regulated drugs that have been determined to have special “abuse potential.” Such drugs include marijuana, hashish or hash oil, cocaine, LSD and other hallucinogens, barbiturates and other sedative-hypnotics, amphetamines and other prescription stimulants, MDMA (Ecstasy), PCP and similar drugs.
It is illegal under both state and federal law to:
- manufacture, deliver, or possess with intent to manufacture or deliver a controlled substance.
- possess, deal in, manufacture, or deliver a substance represented to be a controlled substance (including counterfeit “lookalike” drugs, synthetic cannabinoids, and salvia).
- manufacture, advertise, distribute, or possess with intent to manufacture, advertise or distribute a substance represented to be a controlled substance.
- possess, without a valid prescription, a controlled substance.
- visit a building, structure, vehicle or other place used by any person to unlawfully use a controlled substance.
- possess, manufacture, deal in or deliver drug paraphernalia (an instrument, device or other object intended for use for introducing a controlled substance into a body or for enhancing the effect or testing of a controlled substance).
Criminal sanctions for such violations can include fines from $5,000 to $10,000 under state law and up to $250,000 under federal law and imprisonment in a state prison for up to 50 years or in a federal prison for up to life. The sanction imposed will be determined by (1) the classification of the controlled substance, (2) the quantity involved, (3) the nature of the offense (sales, use, etc.), (4) the age of the recipient (higher penalties if drugs are sold or given to minors), (5) the location of the offense (higher penalties for possession, sale or delivery near a school) and 6) the prior criminal record of the offender. More detailed information may be obtained by consulting the Indiana Criminal Code or the Federal Controlled Substances Act, as amended. This information is available at the Office of Alcohol and Drug Education, 204 Saint Liam Health Center, (574) 631-7970.
Selected Indiana Laws Governing Alcohol and Other Drugs
Operating a vehicle while intoxicated or with 0.15% BAC or above
Class A Misdemeanor or Level 6 Felony, 6 months to 2 1/2 years, up to $10,000 fine, suspension of driving privileges
Operating a vehicle with 0.08% BAC (but less than 0.15% BAC)
Class C Misdemeanor or Level 6 Felony, 6 months to 2 1/2 years, up to $10,000 fines, suspension of driving privileges
Operating a vehicle under 21 years of age with a BAC of at least 0.02% but less than 0.08%
Class C Infraction Up to $500 fine; drivers license suspended for one year
Furnishing alcohol to a minor
Class B Misdemeanor Up to 180 days and $1,000 fine
Minor possessing alcohol
Class C Misdemeanor Up to 60 days, up to $500 fine, up to one year suspension of driver’s license if possession is in an automobile
Minor in a tavern
Class C Infraction Up to $500 fine
Possessing/furnishing false ID
Class C Misdemeanor/Class C Infraction Up to 60 days and $500 fine
(Marijuana offense convictions also result in mandatory suspension of driver’s license and vehicle registration for at least 6 months and up to two years)
Selling, possessing or growing marijuana
Class A Misdemeanor or Level 6 Felony, 6 months to 2 1/2 years and $10,000 fine
Selling marijuana to a minor
Level 5 Felony, 1 to 6 years and $10,000 fine
Selling more than 10 pounds of marijuana
Level 5 Felony, 1 to 6 years and $10,000 fine
(Cocaine offense convictions also result in mandatory suspension of driver’s license and vehicle registration for up to two years)
Level 3, 4, 5, or 6 Felony, 6 months to 20 years and $10,000 fine
Possessing cocaine on or near a school or school bus
Level 2, 3, 4, or 5 Felony, 1 to 30 years and $10,000 fine
Level 2, 3, 4, or 5 Felony, 1 to 30 years and $10,000 fine
Selling cocaine to a minor
Level 2, 3, or 4 Felony, 2 to 30 years and $10,000 fine
Selling cocaine on or near a school or school bus
Level 2, 3, or 4 Felony, 2 to 30 years and $10,000 fine