This information is provided to meet federal standards set forth in The Drug Free
Workplace Act of 1988 and The Drug Free Schools and Communities Act Amendments of
Students should be aware of health risks associated with:
▪ the use of cigarettes and other tobacco products,
▪ the use of alcohol, particularly high risk use,
▪ the use of illicit drugs,
▪ the misuse of over-the-counter and prescription medications, and
▪ the combination of two or more drugs.
The likelihood of negative physical and/or psychological effects is increased by:
▪ the type, amount, and strength of the drug or drugs used,
▪ interaction of two or more drugs,
▪ your physical and emotional state,
▪ physical differences in body size and condition, gender, age, and family history,
▪ activities engaged in while under the influence.
Problems endangering health also occur if the use of mood altering substances is combined
with activities involving coordination and judgment skills, such as driving. The use
of some drugs, particularly cocaine, pose health risks if used during strenuous physical
activity. The following sections more clearly define the major health risks associated
with the use of the most reported drugs of choice.
Cigarettes pose the greatest threat to life, responsible for approximately 433,000
deaths per year in this country. Alcohol is responsible for approximately 115,000
deaths per year in the USA and is involved in over 50% of vehicle crashes and fatalities.
A great percentage of the persons involved in these crashes are in the 16 to 24 year
old age range. The following sections more clearly define the major health risks associated
with the use of these “top four” drugs.
Alcoholic beverages, in the form of beer, wine, wine coolers, or distilled spirits,
require no digestion and are absorbed directly into the blood stream from the digestive
tract. Within approximately three minutes after drinking, alcohol may be found in
the brain and all other tissues, organs, and body fluids. Alcohol depresses the central
nervous system. At low levels, vision, judgment, and complex motor skills and behaviors
are impaired, making it dangerous to drink and drive. Not only are persons under the
influence of alcohol less able to perform the many complex tasks involved in safe
driving, they cannot judge their own levels of impairment. Because alcohol decreases
inhibitions, users may do things they normally would not do.
Long-term consumption of moderate to large quantities of alcohol can cause liver damage.
Heavy drinking may cause serious nervous and mental disorders, including permanent
Ulcers, heart disease, gastritis, pancreatitis, diabetes, malnutrition, and some cancers
are also more common among chronic heavy drinkers than among the general population.
Heavier users may also experience 10 periods of amnesia called blackouts. During these
periods, the person functions, but later cannot remember what he or she has done during
this time. Physical addiction to alcohol can occur after many years of heavy drinking
or, for some individuals, soon after the first drink. Addicted persons feel that they
need alcohol for their brains to function normally, and they experience withdrawal
when alcohol use stops. Moderate withdrawal symptoms include craving alcohol, anxiety,
weakness, tremors, and perspiration. More severe withdrawal symptoms include nausea,
vomiting, seizures, convulsions, hallucinations, and delirium tremens. Severe alcohol
withdrawal can be fatal.
Other serious hazards associated with the use of alcoholic beverages are Fetal Alcohol
Syndrome (FAS) and other alcohol-related birth defects. Drinking by the mother during
pregnancy places the unborn child at risk, affecting the child's development. Conditions
seen in FAS children include: (1) mental retardation; (2) a pattern of abnormal facial
and body features; and (3) central nervous system abnormalities. Not all infants born
to women who drink exhibit abnormal development. "Safe" levels of alcohol use during
pregnancy have not been established, and it is currently recommended that pregnant
Cigarettes and Tobacco Products
There are many hazards of tobacco use. The primary substances in tobacco responsible
for these hazards are nicotine, tar, carbon monoxide and other gases. Nicotine is
a highly addictive substance, and is rated by some experts as being as addictive as
heroin. Nicotine is absorbed into the bloodstream from the lungs, and stimulates the
central nervous system, causing changes including increased blood pressure and heart
rate. Tar is the primary cancer-producing agent in tobacco, though there are many
other cancer causing compounds. Carbon monoxide is absorbed into the bloodstream where
it replaces a portion of oxygen in red blood cells, therefore reducing their ability
to distribute oxygen to the body.
In South Carolina, over one quarter of all deaths can be attributed to cigarette smoking.
Smokers experience twice the rate of coronary heart disease as non-smokers. They are
also two to three times more likely than non-smokers to die from the consequences
of heart disease. Lung cancer has long been the leading cause of cancer deaths in
males, and now replaces breast cancer as the leading cause of cancer deaths in females.
Cigarette smoking is associated with cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and
Another health risk from smoking is the increased rate of chronic bronchitis and other
respiratory infections. Passive smoking has also gained attention in recent years
as a health risk. Those who are exposed to the smoke from others cigarettes on a frequent
basis experience reduced lung capacity, higher rates of lung cancer, and a reduced
life expectancy, as compared to their non-smoking counterparts who are not exposed
regularly to “side stream” smoke.
Chewing tobacco is another substance used by some college students. Although smokeless
tobacco users do not face all the health risks that cigarette smokers do, the risk
of cancer is quite high. Cancers of the lip, mouth, and throat can develop very quickly
among users of smokeless tobacco, sometimes in as few as two to five years.
The effects of marijuana use depend upon the percentage of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol
(THC) present, the method in which the marijuana is ingested, and the expectations
of the user. Researchers now know marijuana has a strong carcinogenic effect, greater
even than smoking tobacco. Users may experience a rapid heart rate and rising blood
pressure. Additional undesirable effects include drowsiness, dry mouth, bloodshot
eyes, and an increase in appetite. High doses can cause confusion and double vision,
and some users experience rapid mood changes and panic, although the latter is rare.
Marijuana is not known to be physically addictive, but individuals report that continuous
use leads to a reliance on the drug to deal with stress and discomfort. If marijuana
or any other drug is used to avoid dealing with difficult situations, the problem
has become severe. Research has demonstrated that more than 90% of users of heroin,
cocaine, and other drugs began with the use of marijuana as their first illicit substance.
This should not be interpreted to mean that marijuana directly leads individuals to
those drugs. Rather, the use of one illicit substance removes barriers, which may
then lead individuals to try other illicit drugs.
Heavy smokers of marijuana risk lung damage and cancer as well as damage to the breathing
tubes. Lesser doses may cause irritation of the throat and lungs. The influence of
marijuana, just as with any other mind altering drug, makes it doubly dangerous for
those who choose to drive while "under the influence." Marijuana causes a lack of
coordination and a distortion of sensory perceptions, sometimes lasting more than
24 hours. The presence of any mind-altering drug tends to impair judgment so that
the individual may not notice these deficits as they occur. The most immediate response
for people who stop marijuana use is a greatly improved memory within three months.
Cocaine occurs in several different forms. Cocaine powder is usually inhaled through
the nose, while "crack," a form of freebase cocaine, is usually smoked. Effects of
cocaine use on the body include dilated pupils, constricted blood vessels and increases
in blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, and body temperature. When cocaine is snorted
over a period of time, the constrictive effect on blood vessels in the nose can cause
cells of its mucus membrane lining to die, resulting in ulceration of the tissue,
breathing difficulties, and possible perforation of the septum, the wall dividing
the two halves of the nose. Smoking cocaine is the more rapid, dangerous, and potentially
fatal way of use. It can cause lung irritation, swollen glands, and soreness in the
neck, chest, and cheeks. Smoking the drug may also produce confusion, slurred speech,
anxiety, and serious psychological problems.
Cocaine use has both short term and long term effects. Use stimulates the brain's
pleasure centers and the user will often prefer the drug to food, sex, family, and
friends. When the drug-induced euphoria wears off, depression results, causing the
user to crave more cocaine. Use can produce strong psychological and a limited degree
of physiological addiction. By overstimulating the central nervous system and producing
an artificial euphoria, the drug causes a broad range of psychological effects, ranging
from acute anxiety to full-blown cocaine psychosis with paranoia and auditory and
visual hallucinations. Chronic users can deplete the neurotransmitters in the brain
that allow a person to feel pleasure, power, and a number of other emotions. When
this state of depletion occurs, the user can no longer feel these emotions.
Cocaine's physiological effects may include seizures, heart attacks, and cardiorespiratory
collapse leading to sudden death, even in normal, healthy people. Chronic cocaine
users may also experience severe mental disorders that can require long-term psychiatric
care. Users who inject the drug run a high risk of contracting hepatitis or AIDS.
USC Union has developed a policy prohibiting the consumption of alcoholic beverages,
by students, at any University function on or off campus including academic field
trips. This decision was made in recognition of the fact that most "traditional" USC
Union students have not reached the legal age of consumption of alcoholic beverages
in South Carolina. If the legal age for consumption of alcoholic beverages changes,
the Student Affairs committee and the campus administration will review the current
policy. Until then, no alcoholic beverages will be allowed at student functions.
Student organizations or individual students who violate University of South Carolina
policies, and state or federal laws, are subject to civil, criminal, and University
proceedings and sanctions. The University campus is not a sanctuary that relieves
students of their responsibilities as citizens to abide by local, state, and federal
laws, or University regulations, policies, and procedures. University penalties may
include but are not limited to cancellation of the activities, forfeiture of organizational
license, and University disciplinary action. Violation of state or federal law may
lead to an arrest or a fine.
The University of South Carolina, as a matter of policy, prohibits the unlawful manufacture,
distribution, dispensation, possession, or use of illegal drugs or controlled substances
by University students as set forth in South Carolina Code of Laws, Section 44-53-110
et seq. This policy prohibits possession or sale of drug paraphernalia (such as roach
clips, bongs, water pipes, cocaine spoons) as defined in South Carolina Code of Laws,
Section 44-53-110 and Section 44-53-391; the non-prescribed use of anabolic steroids
as defined in South Carolina Code of Laws, Section 44-53-1510 et seq.; and the distribution
or delivery of an imitation ("look alike") non-controlled substance represented as
a controlled substance as defined in South Carolina Code of Laws, Section 44-53-390.
The University must maintain its primary function as a center of learning. At the
same time it must be clear that local, state, and federal laws apply equally off campus
as well as on campus.
Possession, except on a physician's or dentist's prescription of stimulant, depressant,
hallucinogenic drugs and other agents having a potential for abuse, violates University
rules and is
prohibited. The selling, bartering, exchanging, and giving away of such drugs to any
person not intended
to possess them is also prohibited.
The University considers any violation of the drug policy to be a serious offense.
The University will
respond to all reported violations of this policy in accordance with published disciplinary
Sanctions imposed may be influenced, in part, by mitigating or aggravating circumstances.
imposed by the University include but are not limited to: suspension held in abeyance
summary suspension and permanent suspension from the University. The continued enrollment
of students not immediately suspended will be subject to conditions and restrictions
recommended by the appropriate disciplinary committee or its designee.
For further information on these topics, contact the S.C Department of Alcohol and
Other Drug Abuse Services:
201 South Herndon Street
Union, SC 29379
219 Human Services Road
Clinton, SC 29325
Phone: (864) 833-6500
Fax: (864) 833-6905