Alcohol, illegal drugs and substance abuse education
The information in this section is in accordance with the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 and the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act Amendments of 1989.
The University of Illinois is concerned with health and safety. Abuse of alcohol and controlled substances can seriously impair one’s health and ability to work and study. It can also endanger the safety and well-being of others.
The university promotes an environment that rejects substance abuse as an acceptable lifestyle, informs campus community members about resources for preventing or treating substance abuse, and helps to influence healthy decisions about alcohol and other drugs. Campus community members should familiarize themselves with the university’s standard of conduct and disciplinary actions taken against students or employees who violate that standard (all outlined below).
Prevention of substance abuse is sought in several ways by:
- Promoting accurate information on drug use
- Encouraging healthy use of leisure time through recreation and other activities
- Enhancing skills for dealing with stress
- Working through campus leaders and influencers to establish a healthy environment
How drug use affects health
Adverse health effects can range from nausea and anxiety to coma and death. There are risks associated with the chronic use of all psychoactive drugs, including alcohol. A pregnant woman who uses alcohol, cigarettes or other drugs exposes her fetus to serious risks, including miscarriage, low birth weight and brain damage. Substance abuse may involve controlled substances, illegal drugs and alcohol — all of which pose a health risk. When drugs are used in combination with each other, their negative effects on the mind and body are often multiplied beyond the effects of the same drugs taken on their own.
Alcohol is the drug most frequently abused on college campuses and in our society. Even small amounts of alcohol significantly impair the judgment and coordination required to drive a car, increasing the chances of having an accident. Consumption of alcohol may be a factor in the incidence of aggressive crimes, including acquaintance sexual assault and domestic abuse. Moderate to large amounts of alcohol severely impair the ability to learn and remember information. Because alcohol is a depressant, very large amounts can cause respiratory and cardiac failure, resulting in death.
Cannabis impairs short-term memory and comprehension. It can cause confusion, anxiety and, for some, lung damage and abnormalities of the hormonal and reproductive system. Hours after the feeling of getting high fades, the effects of the drug on coordination and judgment remain, heightening the risk of driving or performing other complex tasks. Cannabis, a fat-soluble substance, may remain in the body for weeks, and overuse can cause paranoia, panic attacks or psychiatric problems.
Club drugs refer to a wide variety of drugs including MDMA (Ecstasy), GHB, rohypnol, ketamine, methamphetamine and LSD, and are often used at raves, dance clubs and bars. No club drug is safe due to variations in purity, potency and concentration, and they can cause serious health problems or death. They have even more serious consequences when mixed with alcohol.
Depressants such as barbiturates, Valium and other benzodiazepines, quaaludes and other depressants cause disorientation, slurred speech and other behaviors associated with drunkenness. The effects of an overdose of depressants range from shallow breathing, clammy skin, dilated pupils, and weak and rapid pulse to coma and death.
Hallucinogens such as LSD, MDA, PCP (angel dust), mescaline and peyote can cause powerful distortions in perception and thinking. Intense and unpredictable emotional reactions can trigger panic attacks or psychotic reaction. An overdose of hallucinogens can cause heart failure, lung failure, coma and death.
Narcotics like heroin, codeine, morphine, methadone and opium cause such negative effects as anxiety, mood swings, nausea, confusion, constipation and respiratory depression. Overdose may lead to convulsions, coma and death. The risk of being infected with HIV/AIDS or other diseases increases significantly if you inject drugs and share needles, and there is a high likelihood of developing a physical and psychological dependence on these drugs.
Stimulants like cocaine, amphetamines and others can cause agitation, loss of appetite, irregular heartbeat, chronic sleeplessness and hallucinations. Cocaine and crack cocaine are extremely dangerous and psychologically and physically addictive. An overdose can result in seizures and death.
Tobacco, with its active ingredient nicotine, increases heart rate and raises blood pressure. The tar in cigarette smoke is a major cause of cancer and other respiratory problems. Carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke can promote arteriosclerosis, and long-term effects of smoking include emphysema, chronic bronchitis, heart disease and lung cancer.
Drug use by students and employees
The university is committed to maintaining a drug- and alcohol-free environment for its students and employees, in compliance with applicable federal and state laws. Students or employees who violate federal or state laws concerning the possession, use or sale of drugs or alcohol are subject to criminal prosecution, as University Police actively enforce these laws; those who violate university policies may also be subject to institutional sanctions.
No one under the age of 21 may store, possess or consume alcoholic beverages on any property under the control of the University of Illinois, including private certified housing. Persons of legal drinking age — 21 years of age or older — may possess or consume alcoholic beverages only in areas or at functions specifically designated or approved for such use.
The unlawful or unauthorized possession, use, distribution, dispensation, sale or manufacture of controlled substances or alcohol is prohibited on university property or as part of any university activity. Students will also be subject to disciplinary action for violations of the alcohol or drug policy that occur off campus or on private property. Employees or students who violate the policy may be disciplined in accordance with university policies, statutes, rules, regulations, employment contracts and labor agreements, up to and including dismissal and referral for prosecution. The university may contact the parents of students under the age of 21 for violations of the Student Code.
Under the federal Controlled Substances Act, cannabis is classified as a Schedule 1 controlled substance and is illegal. Consistent with that Act and the federal Drug Free Schools and Communities Act and the Drug Free Workplace Act, the university prohibits the unlawful or unauthorized possession, use, distribution, dispensation, sale, or manufacture of cannabis on university property or as part of any university activity. The passage of the Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act in 2019, which legalizes certain activities related to cannabis under Illinois state law effective January 1, 2020, does not affect federal law or the university’s cannabis prohibition.
In addition, the university’s cannabis prohibition applies to both recreational and medical use. That means having a medical cannabis registry identification card under the Illinois Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Program Act does not allow you to use or possess cannabis on university property (this includes but is not limited to outdoor spaces, classrooms, and residential halls) or as part of any university activity.
Disciplinary actions of university employees
Employees are subject to disciplinary action – including discharge – for unauthorized consumption of alcohol on institutional time or property; inability to perform satisfactorily their assigned duties as a result of consuming alcohol; illegal or excessive use of drugs, narcotics or intoxicants; or unauthorized sale or distribution of drugs, narcotics or intoxicants.
If anyone has a problem with controlled substances or alcohol, they are encouraged to seek professional advice and treatment. Confidential help is available, and employees may obtain a list of counseling and assistance programs by calling Faculty/Staff Assistance Services at 217-244-5312 or visiting the website at humanresources.illinois.edu/fsas. In some cases, a supervisor may direct employees to request this information.
Drug and alcohol testing of university employees
Drug testing may be required in accordance with applicable laws, policies and contracts. For example, if an employee is engaged in work under a federal contract, that person may be required to submit to tests for illegal use of controlled substances as provided by the law or regulations of the contracting agency. If an employee performs safety-sensitive job functions that require possession of a commercial driver’s license as a condition of university employment, that person will be subject to alcohol and controlled substances testing as mandated by Department of Transportation regulations.
Drug or alcohol convictions in the workplace
If an employee is convicted of a drug or alcohol offense that took place at work, that person must notify a supervisor within five days. If an employee working on a federal contract or grant is convicted of a drug or alcohol offense occurring in the workplace, the university will notify the granting or contracting federal agency within 10 days of receiving notice of the conviction. Employees may be required to complete a drug rehabilitation program in order to continue employment at the university.
Violation of the drug policy by university students
Students who illegally possess, use, distribute, sell or manufacture drugs are subject to disciplinary action and may be dismissed from the university. The standard disciplinary response to students who are distributing illegal drugs is dismissal for no less than two years. For more information about the university’s drug policy, read §1-305 of the Student Code.
State laws on drug and alcohol use
In Illinois, it is against the law to sell or deliver alcohol to anyone under 21 or to any intoxicated person. Violations can result in fines of up to $1,000 and one year in jail. It is also illegal for a person under 21 to present false identification in an attempt to purchase alcohol. On-campus violations are strictly enforced by University Police, and additional penalties may be imposed:
- The Secretary of State is authorized to suspend or revoke without a hearing the driver’s license or instruction permit of a person under 21 who has purchased or attempted to purchase alcohol from a duly licensed establishment or who has consumed alcohol on licensed premises.
- Local liquor commissioners have the duty to report to the Secretary of State any conviction for a violation of the Liquor Control Act, or a similar provision of a local ordinance, prohibiting a person under 21 from purchasing, accepting, possessing or consuming alcohol and prohibiting the transfer or alteration of identification cards, the use of the identification card of another or a false or forged identification card, or the use of false information to obtain an identification card.
- The Secretary of State is authorized to suspend or revoke the driver’s license or learner’s permit of any person convicted of violating any of the prohibitions listed above or similar provisions of local ordinances.
Substantial penalties exist in Illinois for the operation of a motor vehicle by a driver with a blood or breath alcohol concentration of .08 or greater. Arrests are also possible at lower alcohol levels if driving is impaired. The first offense can result in a $1,000 fine, incarceration for up to one year, and suspension or revocation of the offender’s driver’s license. Subsequent offenses entail penalties of significantly greater severity. Transporting open alcohol containers in a motor vehicle is also punishable under Illinois law.
Except as otherwise provided in the Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act [410 ILCS 705], the possession, sale and delivery of controlled substances is prohibited in Illinois under the Illinois Cannabis Control Act [720 ILCS 550/] and the Illinois Controlled Substances Act [720 ILCS 570/]. Under the Illinois Cannabis Control Act as amended by the Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, courts can set penalties that increase in accordance with the amount of any substance containing cannabis in each case. In regard to both the Illinois Cannabis Control Act and the Illinois Controlled Substances Act, penalties vary with the amount of the drug confiscated, the type of drug found, the number of previous offenses held by the individual, and whether the individual intended to manufacture, deliver or possess with intent to deliver [720 ILCS 550/4 through 550/10] [720 ILCS 570/401 through 570/408].
Federal laws on drug and alcohol use
In addition to prohibiting the unlawful possession of controlled substances [21 U.S.C. 844], the federal Controlled Substance Act [21 U.S.C. 801 and following] prohibits the manufacture, distribution, or dispensation, or possession with intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense, of controlled substances [21 U.S.C. 841(a)]. The Act also prohibits the creation, distribution, or dispensation, or possession with intent to distribute or dispense, of counterfeit substances [21 U.S.C. 841(a)]. Individuals can be penalized on the quantity of confiscated drugs, the type of drug(s) found, the number of previous offenses by the individual, and whether the individual intended to manufacture, sell, or use the drug.
For additional information on federal drug trafficking penalties, consult the federal Drug Enforcement Agency publication Drugs of Abuse.
Substance abuse programs
The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Counseling Center offers a number of opportunities for students to learn more about substance abuse and resources available:
- Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) Assessment
- Challenging Alcohol Attitudes Positively (CAAP)
- Marijuana Information Class (MIC)
- Workshops on Request
- Classes or organizations affiliated with the university can request a personalized workshop about a variety of alcohol and other drug topics
ACE IT Alcohol and Other Drug Peer Education Program
In an effort to provide a safe community for students, the university requires all first year students to attend ACE IT, an orientation program using interactive group discussion led by fellow students to examine what new students may encounter in the campus drinking culture.
In each workshop, students explore hot topics around drinking, drugs, and campus life with a group of other new students. Throughout the workshop, students have the opportunity to express their thoughts and hear what their peers have to say about drinking/drug situations, attitudes, and choices. Students also get a first look at the wealth of free services and resources offered by the Counseling Center and throughout campus.
Due to the Counseling Center’s innovative harm reduction approach, ACE IT does not lecture or preach abstinence. The primary goal is to ensure all students stay safe, healthy, and succeed academically.
Alcohol and drug prevention and response program
The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign promotes an environment that discourages substance misuse, informs university community members about resources for preventing or treating substance misuse and promotes healthy decisions about alcohol and other drugs. Learn more about the Alcohol and Drug Prevention and Response Program at odos.illinois.edu/alcohol-and-drug-program.