Wilkes University Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention Program
This policy serves to further Wilkes University's mission by fostering an environment that encourages lifelong learning; enhances personal growth and provides support for each individual's overall health and well-being. Members of our campus community are responsible for their own actions and expected to respect the rights of others to participate freely in all university activities. In the spirit of individual and shared responsibility, the University has adopted the following policies and practices to help shape healthy and informed decision making and maintain a caring and supportive learning environment.
In order to comply with the law, the Drug Prevention Program must, at a minimum, include the following:
A. The annual distribution in writing to each employee, and to each student who is taking one or more classes for any type of academic credit except for continuing education units, regardless of the length of the student's program of study, of
1. Standards of conduct that clearly prohibit, at a minimum, the unlawful possession,
use, or distribution of controlled substances and alcohol by students and employees
on its property or as part of any of its activities;
2. A description of the applicable legal sanctions under local, State, or Federal law for the unlawful possession of distribution of controlled substances and alcohol;
3. A description of the health risks associated with the use of illicit drugs and the abuse of alcohol;
4. A description of any drug or alcohol counseling, treatment, or rehabilitation or re-entry programs that are available to employees or students;
5. A clear statement that the institution of higher education will impose disciplinary sanctions on students and employees (consistent with local, state and federal law), and a description of those sanctions, up to and including expulsion or termination of employment and referral for prosecution, for violations of the standards of conduct required by paragraph (a)(1) of this section. For the purpose of this section, a disciplinary sanction may include the completion of an appropriate rehabilitation program.
B. A biennial review of the program to:
1. Determine its effectiveness and implement changes to the program if they are needed;
2. Ensure that the disciplinary sanctions described in paragraph (A) (5) of this section are consistently enforced.
This policy applies to all Wilkes University students and employees.
The following terms are important for purposes of expressing the University's policy on a drug-free workplace:
A. Controlled substance means a controlled substance in schedules I through V of section 202 of the Controlled Substance Act (21 U.S.C. 812), as further defined by regulations at 21 CFR 1300.11 through 1300.15 and as defined in Pennsylvania's Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act, 35 Pa. C.S.A. '780-101 et seq.
B. Contract means a legal instrument reflecting a relationship between the federal government and a recipient whenever the principal purpose of the instrument is the acquisition by purchase, lease or barter of property or services for the direct benefit or use of the federal government.
C. Conviction means finding of guilt (including a plea of nolo contendere) or imposition of sentence, or both, by any judicial body charged with the responsibility to determine violations of the federal or state criminal drug statutes.
D. Criminal drug statute means a federal or state criminal statute involving the manufacture, sale, distribution, dispensation, use or possession of any controlled substance.
E. Employee means any faculty, staff or student receiving a salary, wages, other compensation and/or stipend support from the University.
F. Federal agency or agency means any United States executive department, military department, government corporation, government controlled corporation or any other establishment in the executive branch, or any independent regulatory agency.
G. Grant means an award of financial assistance, including a cooperative agreement, in the form of money or property in lieu of money, by a federal agency directly to a grantee. The term grant includes block grant and entitlement grant programs. The term does not include technical assistance which provides services instead of money, or other assistance in the form of loans, loan guarantees, interest subsidies, insurance or direct appropriations; or any veteran's benefits to individuals, i.e., any benefit to veterans, their families or survivors by virtue of the service of a veteran in the Armed Forces of the United States.
H. Grantee means a legal entity which applies for or receives a grant or contract directly from a federal agency.
I. Illegal use of drugs means the use of a controlled substance, as defined above.
J. Student is anyone who is taking a course for credit at the University.
K. Workplace means the physical boundaries of the University and all University owned or controlled property.
STATEMENT ON DRUG AND ALCOHOL PREVENTION
Standards of Conduct
University regulations have consistently supported and recognized the concerns expressed in recent legislation regarding Drug Free Campuses and work places. Alcohol abuse and the use of illicit substances and drugs constitute obvious hazards to health, safety, and well-being and destroy one's ability to function in a productive and contributory fashion. Policies have been developed and adopted by the University that strictly prohibit the unlawful manufacturing, distribution, dispensation, possession, or use of illicit substances not only on our property, but in the larger community as well.
Alcoholic Beverage Policy
The goals of the Wilkes University Alcohol Policy include protection of health and safety of students and employees, the preservation of an environment conducive to scholarship, as well as positive social interaction, the protection of personal and University property, and the prevention of abusive behaviors related to alcohol consumption.
Wilkes University does not encourage the use of alcoholic beverages by students or employees during work hours. The University respects the rights of individuals who are 21 years old who decide to use alcoholic beverages, but is greatly concerned about the misuse and abuse of alcohol. Students of legal age who choose to drink must drink responsibly. Those under 21 years of age are not permitted to consume, possess or be in the presence of alcohol under any circumstances on University property or at any University event.*
* At university events where the participants are of mixed age, those of legal drinking age are visibly identified (i.e. by bracelets). The event must be approved by the Office of Student Affairs.
Alcoholic beverages are prohibited outdoors on University property, including, but not limited to, Ralston Field and all campus playing fields and parking lots. They are prohibited also in all academic and administrative buildings, the Marts Center, Munson Field House and the Student Center. Exceptions to the above may only be made by the Office of Student Affairs.
Students who are under 21 must have permission from the Dean to participate in such events (i.e. senior events). They must be identifiable by bracelet or some other means. Students of legal age are permitted the use of alcohol within the confines of their room or the rooms of other students of legal age. Within the residence halls, alcohol use is not permitted by anyone in common areas (i.e. lounges, hallways, studies, kitchens, etc.). The University prohibits common supplies of alcoholic beverages. This includes any size keg or beer ball (full, partially full, or empty), open punch bowls, or any common source from which alcoholic beverages may be served. The possession or consumption of grain alcohol is prohibited.
Those students of legal age may possess only reasonable quantities of alcohol for their own personal use. Students 21 years of age or older may bring a maximum of one case of beer (not to exceed a case of 12 oz. or 16 oz. containers), or one gallon of wine, or one case of wine coolers, or one fifth of distilled alcohol into college-owned housing. However, a room or living unit (i.e. apartment) may not have a quantity of alcohol in excess of the limit listed above. An excess of the established limit would be considered a large quantity and reason for disciplinary action. Decisions of this nature will be the judgment of the Residence Life Judicial Board. High content alcohol/caffeine (combined) beverages are prohibited from the residence halls.
The University recognizes the legal ability of those who are 21 years of age and over to consume alcohol. However, possessing alcoholic beverages in one's room allows underage roommates and guests access to a substance that is illegal for them to have. This also places legal-age students in the role of providing alcohol to a minor, which is a more serious offense. Residents will be held responsible for any violations of this nature that occur in their room.
Students who maintain residence off campus are reminded of their responsibilities regarding the laws of the Commonwealth. Parties sponsored by independently maintained apartments off campus must comply with Commonwealth laws and local ordinances. If an incident is reported to the University that occurred off campus, it will be dealt with through the Student Affairs Council.
When official University social functions are held off campus, the price for admission may not include the costs of any alcoholic beverages. The single exception to this regulation is the President's Dinner Dance for Graduates. The University, as a matter of routine, writes to the management of hotels where off-campus events are held, reminding them of their legal responsibilities regarding the serving of alcoholic beverages. Similarly, the University supports hotel management regulations regarding compliance with the law and will fully cooperate with the hotel management staff in the discharge of responsibilities. No club or organization may enter into an agreement with an establishment serving alcohol to receive donations from that establishment as a means of promoting business.
Alcohol and Guests
Residents are responsible for their guests at all times. This includes the use of alcohol. If guests to Wilkes University are found in violation of the alcohol policy, their hosts are responsible for the sanctions resulting from the violation. Students who have guests on campus or in University buildings are responsible for advising them of the Pennsylvania laws and University policies pertaining to alcoholic beverages.
A member of the Wilkes University community who fears direct or immediate threat to
the health or safety of an alcohol or drug-impaired individual should alert the Student
Affairs on-call person, a Resident Assistant, Public Safety or professional medical
assistance. For his or her part in aiding the impaired individual, he or she will
not be subject to formal University discipline for the occasion on which he or she
gave assistance. This refers to isolated incidents only and does not excuse or protect
those who flagrantly or repeatedly violate this policy.
Those who receive medical attention in these circumstances due to abuse of alcohol or illegal drugs will be immune from University disciplinary action concerning abuse for the initial offense. They will, however, be referred to the Counseling Center. The counselor will determine if further treatment is necessary. Failure to comply with the evaluation or treatment recommendations will result in full disciplinary action for the original violation.
Intoxication is not an excuse for irresponsible behavior and students will be held
accountable for their behavior at all times. Students who demonstrate inappropriate,
irresponsible behavior as a result of drinking will be subject to disciplinary action.
These behaviors may include, but are not limited to, slurred speech, erratic behavior,
or difficulty with physical coordination. The sanctions imposed may range from an
official reprimand to dismissal from the University.
It should be clearly understood that students who demonstrate a lack of responsibility and maturity in the use of alcohol will be required to participate in programs pertaining to alcohol education and/or abuse. Any behavior resulting from the use of alcoholic beverages that infringes upon the rights or privacy of others will be considered a violation and is subject to disciplinary action.
No student who is under 21 years of age, may consume alcohol while representing the University on a University-sponsored trip. This includes, but is not limited to, sporting events, educational trips, and student-sponsored trips. Those of legal drinking age should exercise control when representing the University.
In an effort to promote a healthy environment surrounding athletic activities, the
University does not condone tailgating of any kind.
University regulations regarding alcohol stand to preserve the legal and responsible use of this substance on or off campus and at events sponsored by the University. Noncompliance with these regulations will result in disciplinary procedures being instituted in an effort to protect the health, safety, and well-being of all members of the community, as well as the violator of the regulations. The University is not a sanctuary from the law and will cooperate fully with law enforcement agencies in support of these regulations.
Sanctions for Alcohol Violations
Students: Please refer to the Student Handbook for a complete list of sanctions based on specific violations.
MyStudentBody is a comprehensive approach to reducing the risk of drug and alcohol abuse and sexual violence among college students. MyStudentBody engages students and parents in effective, evidence- based prevention and gives administrators the data to target, evaluate, and strengthen prevention initiatives.
College students make choices every day that affect their academic success and ultimately their success in life. The choices they make about alcohol, drugs, and sexual violence can be among the toughest—and can have the most serious consequences. MyStudentBody is a comprehensive, evidence-based, online prevention program that gives students the tools to choose behavior that helps them successfully navigate the social pressures of the campus environment and achieve academic success.
MyStudentBody is the only online college prevention program that continues to provide
students with health education, self-assessment, tools, and strategies to cope with
behavioral risks, available 24/7 throughout the school year. MyStudentBody is also
the only online college drug and alcohol program that boosts the University's prevention
message with follow-up assessment at 30, 60, or 90 days. The follow- up assessment
reinforces the prevention message and gathers data to track the effects of your program
on student drinking, drug use, and sexual victimization.
Every incoming, first year student is required to complete the MyStudentBody program within the allotted timeframe. An email is sent to each student at the beginning of the school year with directions to participate. Failure to successfully complete the program will result in a $100 penalty charge and required participation in a Choices alcohol education class.
Employees: Any employee who is convicted of any criminal drug statute violation which has occurred in the workplace to notify his or her supervisor or appropriate academic officer, preferably in writing, of such conviction, including any resultant conditions, within five days of the conviction. All academic officers, supervisors or student employment officials having knowledge of or receiving notification of a conviction as described above must immediately notify Human Resources in writing.
The University will notify the appropriate federal agency within 10 days after receiving notice of a criminal drug statute conviction of any University employee engaged in the performance of the grant or contract.
Any employee convicted of a drug offense occurring in the workplace will be subject to corrective action (up to and including suspension, suspension without pay, and/or termination) and may be required to satisfactorily participate in a drug abuse assistance or rehabilitation program as agreed upon between the employee and the Human Resources department. Upon completion of the program, the employee is asked to make a good faith effort to continue to maintain a drug-free workplace through implementation of this policy. Further information concerning corrective actions and appropriate procedures are available from the Human Resources department.
LOCAL, STATE AND FEDERAL LAW
The Pennsylvania Liquor and Penal Code states:
All persons, while in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, are subject to Pennsylvania Liquor and Penal Code.
- It shall be unlawful for a person less than 21 years of age to attempt to purchase, consume, possess, or transport any alcohol or malt or brewed beverages within this Commonwealth. (Fine not to exceed $500, suspension of operating license)
- It is unlawful to sell or furnish alcoholic beverages of any kind to persons under 21 years of age. No person under 21 years of age may pass assessments that will be used in whole or in part for the purchase of alcoholic beverages. (First violation fine not less than $1,000, subsequent violation fine not less than $2,500.)
- It is a misdemeanor to lawfully transfer a registration card for the purpose of falsifying age to secure alcoholic or malt beverages.
- It is unlawful to misrepresent one's age to obtain alcoholic beverages or to represent to a liquor dealer that a minor is of age. (First offense is a summary offense and results in restriction of operating privileges, subsequent offense results in restriction of operating privileges and fine of $300.
Wilkes-Barre city ordinances:
Section 1: Purchase, consumption, and possession or transportation of intoxicating beverages
A. A person commits an offense if he or she attempts to purchase, purchases, consumes, possess, or transports any alcohol, liquor or malt or brewed beverages within the confines of the parks, recreation areas, or conservation areas within the limits of the City of Wilkes-Barre.
B. A person commits an offense if he or she openly consumes any alcohol, liquor, or malt or brewed beverages on any public thoroughfare within the limits of the City of Wilkes-Barre.
Section 2: Posted Park Rules and Regulations
A person commits an offense if he violates any of the rules and regulations, as the same are posted in each of the parks, recreation areas, or conservation areas within the limits of the City of Wilkes-Barre.
Section 3: Penalty for Violation
Any person violating any of the provision of this ordinance shall, upon summary conviction thereof in a summary proceeding before a magistrate, be sentenced to pay a fine of not less than $25 and not more than $300, and costs. In default of the payment of such fines and costs, such person shall be imprisoned in the county jail for a period not exceeding 90 days. Each and every day upon which any person violates or continues to violate the provisions of this ordinance shall constitute a separate offense.
1. Anyone under the age of 21 who attempts to purchase, purchases, transports, or
possess alcoholic beverages faces a fine of $25 to $300. Additionally, there is a
mandatory suspension of a driver's license for a period of 90 days on the first offense,
one year for a second offense, and two years for every offense thereafter.
2. It is a misdemeanor of the third degree and calls for a mandatory $1000 fine for anyone who knowingly and intentionally sells or furnishes alcohol to someone under 21 years of age.
Federal Penalties for Illegal Possession of a Controlled Substance:
Up to 1 year imprisonment and fined at least $1,000 but not more than $100,000 or both.
After one prior drug conviction:
At least 15 days in prison, not to exceed 2 years and fined at least $2,500 but not more than $2,500 but not more than $250,000, or both.
After 2 or more prior drug convictions:
At least 90 days in prison, not to exceed three years and fined at least $5,000 but not more than
$250,000 or both.
Special sentencing provisions for possession of crack cocaine:
Mandatory at least 5 years in prison, not to exceed 20 years and fined up to $250,000, or both, if:
(a) 1st conviction and the amount of crack possessed exceeds 5 grams
(b) 2nd crack conviction and the amount of crack possessed exceeds 3 grams.
(c) 3rd or subsequent crack conviction and the amount of crack possessed exceeds 1 gram.
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.
Forfeiture of vehicles, boats, aircraft or any other conveyance used to transport or conceal a controlled substance.
Denial of Federal benefits, such as student loans, grants, contracts, and professional and commercial licenses, up to 1 year for first offense, up to 5 years for second and subsequent offenses.
Ineligible to receive or purchase a firearm. Revocation of certain Federal licenses and benefits; e.g. pilot license, public housing tenancy, etc.
In support of this policy, the University understands the importance of providing effective drug and alcohol prevention program strategies and having in place services to support community members challenged with substance abuse issues. For the purposes of planning and assessment of the University's prevention programs Gordon's classification system is used to define the most effective means of meeting community needs:
Universal prevention efforts are those that are applied to everybody in an eligible population. In other words, universal efforts are targeted to the general public or the general population. The focus is on persons who are not considered to be at higher risk than others and the benefits outweigh the cost and risk for everyone.
Selective prevention efforts are focused on individuals or subgroups of the population whose risk of developing problems of alcohol abuse or dependence is above average. The subgroups may be distinguished by characteristics such as age, gender, family history, or economic status. Subgroups may also be identified by past experience or behavior. While risk levels are higher, not all individuals within the subgroups will experience alcohol use problems.
Indicated prevention efforts apply to persons who exhibit specific risk factors or conditions that individually identify them as being at risk for the development of alcohol abuse (e.g., early experimentation).
Statement of Goals - Drug and Alcohol Prevention at Wilkes University
1. Educate the University community: regarding risk factors associated with drug and alcohol use and abuse; and, federal, state, local and campus laws and policies related to drugs and alcohol
2. Consistently enforce all drug and alcohol policies set forth by the University
3. Provide all employees and students a copy of this policy annually
4. Assess prevention strategy effectiveness and make necessary changes based on data trends
5. Maintain a Substance Abuse Taskforce consisting of key community stakeholders (see
A) to provide advice for campus decision makers with respect to drug and alcohol issues
6. Provide information to the community regarding campus and community resources for those in need of professional assistance related to chemical dependency issues
7. Provide campus events and activities that serve as popular alternatives to drug and alcohol use
Required Dissemination of Information
At the beginning of the school year all students are notified of their responsibilities to familiarize themselves with the Student Handbook which includes information relative to drug and alcohol laws, policies, risks, and helpful resources for those experiencing problems. As added assurance that students are fulfilling this responsibility, first year students complete an online handbook quiz which includes questions specific to the drug and alcohol section. Additionally, students are provided, annually, with a separate document (Wilkes University Drug and Alcohol Prevention Program) to review.
The Chief Human Resources officer will provide this policy to all University employees on an annual basis.
Resident Assistant Training
All resident assistants are trained to recognize behaviors related to misuse of drugs and alcohol and respond within the parameters set forth by University procedures. Part of the training is to prepare resident assistants to plan required programs in all of the halls (both educationally and socially) that promote drug and alcohol awareness and healthy lifestyles.
Throughout the year programs are open to the entire campus community to educate and advocate for responsible use of alcohol and abstinence from drugs. Examples of educational programs include:
National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week (Wyoming Valley Alcohol and Drug Services (educational table); Northeastern Highway Safety Program (educational table); BACCHUS Club (educational table); Candlelight Prayer Vigil; Alcohol Awareness Walk); Alcohol Bingo; BACCHUS Club Human Papilloma Virus Educational Table; Operation Safe Holiday (educational table); BACCHUS Safe Holiday message treats; Health & Wellness Fair (Wyoming Valley Alcohol and Drug Services, PLCE, Family Member Suffer from addiction, Northeastern Highway Safety Program, Victims Resource Center, PLCE, PA State Police, PSI CHI; alcohol abuse screening); BACCHUS Club Resident Assistants Hall Program - Floats and Fun Alcohol Awareness Program.
The University offers a well-populated social activities calendar working with over 70 clubs and organizations to serve as a catalyst to develop program offerings that provide alternatives to unauthorized events and activities related to alcohol use. The Office of Community Engagement also offered a variety of short and long term community service projects providing an opportunity for students to choose to spend discretionary time helping others while experientially learning about societal needs and challenges. The Residence Life Office sponsored over 150 programs annually in different residence halls for social and educational purposes and to promote a sense of community. Finally, the University offered 18 different intercollegiate sports and an active intramural program to engage students in healthy living through fitness.
Substance Abuse Taskforce
The Substance Abuse Taskforce has functioned for many years on campus serving in an advisory capacity for all drug and alcohol awareness initiatives and policies. It meets one to two times per semester and consists of faculty, staff, administrators, students, a member of the Liquor Control Board (LCB), and community members. The Taskforce invites guests in to discuss recent drug and alcohol trends and best practices for college campuses.
Required Online Program for First Year Students (MyStudentBody.com Essentials program)
MyStudentBody.com's Essentials online program takes a comprehensive, evidence-based approach to reducing the risk of drug and alcohol abuse and sexual violence among college students. First year students receive instructions for the program via email during the beginning of the fall semester and briefly follow up in November. Program completion is required.
All first year students participate in Welcome Weekend which occurs two days prior to the beginning of the fall semester. At that time students participate in a variety of social and educational programs including a program on sexual assault which emphasizes the connectedness between increased risk of sexual assault, alcohol and drug use.
The University uses E-mentors to serve as a resource and role-model for first year students. The relationship begins at new student orientation during the summer and continues through the fall semester. The E-mentors are trained to engage students in positive aspects of University life and identify students who present concerning behavior, including behavior associated with drug and alcohol use.
For the past several years the Victims Resource Center of Wilkes-Barre and Office of Student Affairs has met with each athletic team at the beginning of the year to discuss high risk behavior and consequences. Additional drug and alcohol programs are delivered to student athletes through the Office of Residence Life.
The Employee Assistance Program offers general information on drug abuse assistance programs, individual counseling and referrals, and periodic educational programs on the dangers of drug abuse and managing drug related problems. Further information regarding these programs and services can be obtained from the EAP by calling 570-823-5144, which has extensive resource materials and which sponsors many educational seminars, lectures and other events which are designed to increase drug and alcohol awareness among members of the University community.
General Information for Students:
There are students who present themselves under this classification through self-disclosure or behavior related challenges. Students who self-disclose to having a drug or alcohol problem are referred to a counselor in the Health and Wellness Office. Students may also be identified through drug and alcohol screenings sponsored by the Health and Wellness Office and offered in the Student Center. Students may opt to take an anonymous, free online screening for alcohol misuse at www.mentalhealthscreening.org/screening/WILKES. Once a student is identified he/she is assessed and an appropriate referral is made to a professional resource in the community. The counselor makes an effort to continue a relationship with the student (in consultation with the community resource) to assist the student with current or future educational plans. Students who are identified through behavior related circumstances (i.e.- conduct infractions) meet with the appropriate adjudicating body and are sanctioned based on the severity and frequency of the behavior. Any student who violates the drug or alcohol policies more than once are required to get a professional assessment from an off-campus mental health professional. Minimum sanctions are in place for both drug and alcohol infractions and include a mandatory fine, education class, and parental notification (for those under 21 years of age). The required class is called CHOICES, and during this educative and interactive experience students learn about the physiological effects of alcohol, protective behaviors, and risk factors, and will discuss their own expectations about drinking as well as negative outcomes they would like to avoid in the future. Making healthy and responsible decisions is a focus of this class.
General Information for Employees:
Therapeutic education and referrals to appropriate therapy programs dealing with drug abuse available to all employees through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). The Human Resources department, as well as individual departments, will refer faculty and staff to the EAP which will make referrals for treatment as appropriate. An employee may be given the opportunity to choose between corrective action, which may include termination or professional intervention, diagnosis, and/or treatment.
Referrals may be made for students or employees to the following:
- Clearbrook, Inc.(inpatient)
1100 E. Northampton Street, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18706 570-823-1171 or 800-582-6241
- Marworth (inpatient) Lily Lake Road
Waverly, PA 18471-7736 800-442-7722
- Wyoming Valley Alcohol and Drug Services, Inc. North Main Street
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18704 570-820-8888
- Caron Foundation Alcohol and Drug Treatment Center 243 North Galen Hall Road
Wernersville, PA 19565 800-854-6023
Other resources including Community Counseling and a host of private psychologists and psychiatrists are available based on individual needs and circumstances.
POSSIBLE EFFECTS OF SUBSTANCE ABUSE
Alcohol Use/Abuse and Associated Health Risks
Consequences of drinking too much: Alcohol enters your bloodstream as soon as you take your first sip. Alcohol's immediate effects can appear within about 10 minutes. As you drink, you increase your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level, which is the amount of alcohol present in your bloodstream. The higher your BAC, the more impaired you become by alcohol's effects. These effects can include:
- Reduced inhibition
- Slurred speech
- Motor impairment
- Memory problems
- Concentration problems
- Breathing problems
Other risks of drinking can include:
- Car crashes and other accidents
- Risky behavior
- Violent behavior
- Suicide and homicide
Alcohol use disorders are medical conditions that doctors can diagnose when a patient's drinking causes distress or harm. In the United States, about 18 million people have an alcohol use disorder, classified as either alcohol dependence — perhaps better known as alcoholism—or alcohol abuse.
Alcoholism, the more serious of the disorders, is a disease that includes symptoms such as:
- Craving—a strong need, or urge, to drink.
- Loss of control—not being able to stop drinking once drinking has begun.
- Physical dependence—Withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, shakiness, and anxiety after stopping drinking.
- Tolerance—the need to drink greater amounts of alcohol to feel the same effect.
People who are alcoholics often will spend a great deal of their time drinking, making sure they can get alcohol, and recovering from alcohol's effects, often at the expense of other activities and responsibilities.
Although alcohol abusers are not physically dependent on alcohol, they still have a serious disorder. Alcohol abusers may not fulfill responsibilities at home, work, or school because of their drinking. They may also put themselves in dangerous situations (like driving under the influence) or have legal or social problems (such as arrests or arguments with family members) due to their drinking.
Drinking too much – on a single occasion or over time – can take a serious toll on your health. Here's how alcohol can affect your body:
Alcohol interferes with the brain's communication pathways, and can affect the way the brain looks and works. These disruptions can change mood and behavior, and make it harder to think clearly and move with coordination.
Drinking a lot over a long time or too much on a single occasion can damage the heart, causing problems including:
- Cardiomyopathy – Stretching and drooping of heart muscle
- Arrhythmias – Irregular heart beat
- High blood pressure
Research also shows that drinking moderate amounts of alcohol may protect healthy adults from developing coronary heart disease.
Heavy drinking takes a toll on the liver, and can lead to a variety of problems and liver inflammations including:
- Steatosis, or fatty liver
- Alcoholic hepatitis
Alcohol causes the pancreas to produce toxic substances that can eventually lead to pancreatitis, a dangerous inflammation and swelling of the blood vessels in the pancreas that prevents proper digestion.
Drinking too much alcohol can increase your risk of developing certain cancers, including cancers of the:
Drinking too much can weaken your immune system, making your body a much easier target for disease. Chronic drinkers are more liable to contract diseases like pneumonia and tuberculosis than people who do not drink too much. Drinking a lot on a single occasion slows your body's ability to ward off infections – even up to 24 hours after getting drunk.
Source: National Institute of Health – National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism retrieved from: http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health
What Is Drug Addiction? Addiction is a chronic, often relapsing brain disease that causes compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences to the addicted individual and to those around him or her. Although the initial decision to take drugs is voluntary for most people, the brain changes that occur over time challenge a person's self-control and ability to resist intense impulses urging them to take drugs.
Fortunately, treatments are available to help people counter addiction's powerful disruptive effects. Research shows that combining addiction treatment medications with behavioral therapy is the best way to ensure success for most patients. Treatment approaches that are tailored to each patient's drug abuse patterns and any co-occurring medical, psychiatric, and social problems can lead to sustained recovery and a life without drug abuse.
Similar to other chronic, relapsing diseases, such as diabetes, asthma, or heart disease, drug addiction can be managed successfully. And as with other chronic diseases, it is not uncommon for a person to relapse and begin abusing drugs again. Relapse, however, does not signal treatment failure—rather, it indicates that treatment should be reinstated, adjusted, or that an alternative treatment is needed to help the individual regain control and recover.
What Happens to Your Brain When You Take Drugs?
Drugs contain chemicals that tap into the brain's communication system and disrupt the way nerve cells normally send, receive, and process information. There are at least two ways that drugs cause this disruption: (1) by imitating the brain's natural chemical messengers and (2) by over-stimulating the "reward circuit" of the brain.
Some drugs (e.g., marijuana and heroin) have a similar structure to chemical messengers called neurotransmitters, which are naturally produced by the brain. This similarity allows the drugs to "fool" the brain's receptors and activate nerve cells to send abnormal messages.
Other drugs, such as cocaine or methamphetamine, can cause the nerve cells to release abnormally large amounts of natural neurotransmitters (mainly dopamine) or to prevent the normal recycling of these brain chemicals, which is needed to shut off the signaling between neurons. The result is a brain awash in dopamine, a neurotransmitter present in brain regions that control movement, emotion, motivation, and feelings of pleasure. The overstimulation of this reward system, which normally responds to natural behaviors linked to survival (eating, spending time with loved ones, etc.), produces euphoric effects in response to psychoactive drugs. This reaction sets in motion a reinforcing pattern that "teaches" people to repeat the rewarding behavior of abusing drugs.
As a person continues to abuse drugs, the brain adapts to the overwhelming surges in dopamine by producing less dopamine or by reducing the number of dopamine receptors in the reward circuit. The result is a lessening of dopamine's impact on the reward circuit, which reduces the abuser's ability to enjoy the drugs, as well as the events in life that previously brought pleasure. This decrease compels the addicted person to keep abusing drugs in an attempt to bring the dopamine function back to normal, except now larger amounts of the drug are required to achieve the same dopamine high—an effect known as tolerance.
Long-term abuse causes changes in other brain chemical systems and circuits as well. Glutamate is a neurotransmitter that influences the reward circuit and the ability to learn. When the optimal concentration of glutamate is altered by drug abuse, the brain attempts to compensate, which can impair cognitive function. Brain imaging studies of drug-addicted individuals show changes in areas of the brain that are critical to judgment, decision-making, learning and memory, and behavior control. Together, these changes can drive an abuser to seek out and take drugs compulsively despite adverse, even devastating consequences—that is the nature of addiction.
Why Do Some People Become Addicted While Others Do Not?
No single factor can predict whether a person will become addicted to drugs. Risk for addiction is influenced by a combination of factors that include individual biology, social environment, and age or stage of development. The more risk factors an individual has, the greater the chance that taking drugs can lead to addiction. For example:
- Biology. The genes that people are born with––in combination with environmental influences–– account for about half of their addiction vulnerability. Additionally, gender, ethnicity, and the presence of other mental disorders may influence risk for drug abuse and addiction.
- Environment. A person's environment includes many different influences, from family and friends to socioeconomic status and quality of life in general. Factors such as peer pressure, physical and sexual abuse, stress, and quality of parenting can greatly influence the occurrence of drug abuse and the escalation to addiction in a person's life.
- Development. Genetic and environmental factors interact with critical developmental stages in a person's life to affect addiction vulnerability. Although taking drugs at any age can lead to addiction, the earlier that drug use begins, the more likely it will progress to more serious abuse, which poses a special challenge to adolescents. Because their brains are still developing in the areas that govern decision-making, judgment, and self-control, adolescents may be especially prone to risk-taking behaviors, including trying drugs of abuse.
Individual Drugs and Their Harmful Effects
Drug effects vary depending on what type of drug is taken, who is taking it, how much is taken, etc. The method of administration also impacts the drug effects on the user. For example: injection takes the drug directly into the blood stream, providing more immediate effects; while ingestion requires the drug to pass through the digestive system, delaying the effects.
Physical Factors of Drug Effects:
- Person's weight and age. The amount of physical mass a drug must travel through will have an outcome on the drugs effect on the body. Also, the aging process affects the manner in which the drug exerts its effects on the body.
- Individual biomedical/chemical make-up. Each individual tolerates substances differently. For example: a person's physical condition as well as hypersensitivity (allergies) or hyposensitivity (need for larger doses to gain the desired effect) will influence the total drug effects on the individual.
- Rate of metabolism. Each drug metabolizes or processes within the body at a different rate. The drug remains active in the body until metabolism occurs. For example: certain medications require dosages to be taken every four, twelve or twenty-four hours, depending on the duration and rate at which the drug is metabolized.
- Food. Food in the body slows absorption of the drug into the body by not allowing it to pass directly through the digestive process without first being processed by the digestive system. A slower process occurs, since the body is digesting food in addition to the substance or drug utilized by the person.
Emotional Factors of Drug Effects:
- Emotional state. A person's specific emotional state or degree of psychological comfort or discomfort will influence how a drug may affect the individual. For example: if a person began using alcohol and was extremely angry or upset, the alcohol could intensify this anger or psychological discomfort. On the other hand, if alcohol was being used as part of a celebration, the psychological state of pleasure could be enhanced by the use of the drug.
- Anticipation/Expectancy. The degree to which a person believes that a given drug will affect them, may have an effect on their emotional state. If a person truly believes that by using a substance, they will experience a given drug's effects, then their expectations may cause a psychological change in the manner in which the drug affects them.
Drug-Related Factors of Drug Effects:
- Tolerance. Tolerance refers to the amount of a given substance necessary to receive its desired effect.
- Presence or use of other drugs. The presence or use of other drugs such as prescription, over-the- counter, nicotine, and caffeine also influence the rate of absorption and metabolism of drugs in the body.
- Method of administration. A drug injected directly into the blood stream will affect an individual at a greater rate, since it will be directly absorbed through the blood stream and presented to various organs. If a drug is snorted or inhaled, the drug effects may be enhanced, due to the fact that the sinus cavity is located in close proximity to the brain. On the other hand, if a drug is ingested, the effects may be slower due to the fact that they must pass through the digestive system.
- Physical dependence (addiction). If a person is physically addicted to a drug, then more of a given substance may be necessary and the effects on the body will differ from those seen in a non- dependent individual.
- Elimination. Drugs are eliminated from the body primarily through the liver. The liver and kidneys act as a body's filter to filter out and excrete drugs from the body. The liver metabolizes ninety percent of alcohol in the body, while ten percent is excreted through the lungs and sweat. Also, the liver metabolizes drugs in a fairly consistent manner. For example: alcohol is removed at the rate of one 12 oz. can of beer, one 5 oz. glass of wine, or 1 1/2 oz. shot of whiskey per hour.
Drug Effects: Marijuana
- Increases in heart rate, body temperature, and appetite.
- Dryness of the mouth and throat.
- Reddening of the eyes and reduction in ocular pressure.
Drug Effects: Cocaine
- May cause extreme anxiety and restlessness.
- May experience the following medical conditions: twitches, tremors, spasms, coordination problems, chest pain, nausea, seizures, respiratory arrest, and cardiac arrest.
Drug Effects: Sedative Hypnotics (Barbiturates, Benzodiazepines)
- Short-term effects can occur with low to moderate use.
- May experience moderate relief of anxiety and a sense of well-being.
- There may be temporary memory impairment, confusion, and impaired thinking.
- A person could be in a stupor, and have altered perception and slurred speech.
Drug Effects: Opiates (Morphine, Heroin, Codeine, Opium)
- Include drowsiness, dizziness, mental confusion, constriction of pupils, and euphoria.
- Some opiate drugs, such as Codeine, Demerol, and Darvon, also have stimulating effects.
- Stimulating effects include: central nervous system excitation, increased blood, elevated blood pressure, increased heart rate, tremors, and seizures.
Drug Effects: Amphetamines
- A person may experience a loss of appetite, increased alertness, and a feeling of well- being.
- A person's physical condition may be altered by an increase in breathing and heart rate, elevation in blood pressure, and dilation of pupils.
For more detailed information on individual drugs go to: http://www.drug-rehabs.org/drug- effects-c.htm
Source: Drug Rehabs.Org, retrieved from: http://www.drug-rehabs.org
Effective Date: 12/2015