Alcohol and Drug Information

Reviewed:  August 2017

Federal regulations outlined in the Drug-free Schools and Communities Act of 1989, Public Law 101-226, require colleges and universities to provide each student with specific information on alcohol and drugs. For more information or if you need some help dealing with an alcohol or drug-related problem, feel free to contact Personal & Professional Development Center, Mary Basement, 363-3236. All visits are confidential.


Alcohol is a drug. It acts as a central nervous system depressant. Alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream through the stomach and the small intestine. Amount of alcohol consumed; rate at which it is consumed; presence of food in the stomach during consumption; individual's weight, mood, and previous experience with alcohol all influence the effects of alcohol. Alcohol can be very damaging when used in large amounts over a long period of time, or when drunk heavily in a short period of time ("binge" drinking).

Possible signs and health risks of use/abuse: staggering; dizziness; slurred speech; flushing of skin; dulling of senses; double vision; sudden mood changes; impaired coordination, reflexes, memory, and judgment; clammy, cold skin; decreased body temperature; impaired decision making; unconsciousness; malnutrition; lowered resistance to disease; irreversible brain or nervous system damage; gastrointestinal irritation; addiction/alcoholism; damage to liver, heart and pancreas; coma; death from overdose, injury or accident.



Caffeine is a white, bitter, crystal-like substance found in coffee, tea, cola, and chocolate. Caffeine is also found in products such as aspirin, nonprescription cough and cold remedies, diet pills, nonprescription stimulants (such as NoDoz or Vivarin), and some street drugs.

Possible signs and health risks of use/abuse: small doses of caffeine may increase the user's metabolism, body temperature, and blood pressure; frequent urination; increased blood sugar levels; tremors; impaired coordination; decreased appetite; delayed sleep; boredom; nausea; diarrhea; sleeplessness; headache; nervousness; convulsions; respiratory arrest; death.


Cocaine is extracted from the leaves of the South American cocoa plant. Cocaine is a white powder that can be inhaled, injected, or smoked (free based). Cocaine stimulates the central nervous system, increasing alertness and activity. Cocaine is an addictive drug. Initially, users of cocaine experience a "high," but when the "high" wears off a devastating "low" follows. To avoid this "low" users are often compelled to use more.

Possible signs and health risks of use/abuse: dilated pupils; euphoria; tremors; anxiety; narrowing of blood vessels; increased blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and body temperature; sweating; violent, erratic, or paranoid behavior; decreased appetite; insomnia; runny nose; heart and respiratory failure; psychosis; seizures; sexual dysfunction; addiction; death; for users who share or use unsterile needles to inject cocaine: tetanus, hepatitis, or AIDS.



Marijuana is the common name for the hemp plant, cannabis sativa. A marijuana cigarette (joint) is composed of dried particles from the hemp plant. The psychoactive ingredient in marijuana is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The amount of THC in a joint is what affects the user.

Possible signs and health risks of use/abuse: bloodshot eyes; increased appetite; dryness in the mouth and throat; increased heart and pulse rate; impaired memory; an altered sense of time; hallucinations; paranoia or panic; decreased concentration, reaction time and coordination; damage to heart, lungs and brain nerve cells; lung cancer; memory disorders; interference with psychological maturation; psychological dependence; temporary loss of fertility in both women and men; bronchitis, infections, colds, and other viruses.



Steroids may contribute to increases in body weight and muscular strength. Anabolic-Androgenic steroids are chemically related to the male sex hormone, testosterone. Anabolic means to build up the muscles and other tissues of the body. Androgenic refers to the development of male sex characteristics. Steroids are injected directly into the muscle or taken orally.

Possible signs and health risks of use/abuse: sudden increase in muscle and weight; increase in aggression and combativeness; violence; hallucinations; jaundice; purple or red spots on body, inside mouth, or nose; swelling of feet or lower legs (edema) tremors; bad breath; for men: enlarged nipples and breasts, testicle reduction, enlarged prostate, baldness; acne; high blood pressure; liver and kidney damage; heart disease; increased risk of injury to ligaments and tendons; bowel and urinary problems; gallstones and kidney stones; liver cancer; for men: impotence and sterility; for users who share or use unsterile needles to inject steroids: hepatitis, tetanus, AIDS.



Tobacco is smoked through pipes, cigars and cigarettes. Tobacco is also chewed and inhaled in the form of snuff. Nicotine is the active ingredient in all forms of tobacco. Nicotine stimulates the heart and central nervous system.

Possible signs and health risks of use/abuse: increased heart rate and blood pressure; dilated pupils; increased salivations; arteriosclerosis; emphysema; chronic bronchitis; heart disease; lung cancer; oral cancer; decreasing taste sensation and ability to smell; dental problems.