Alcohol and Drug Education

A Safe and Healthy Environment

USC Upstate is committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for students, faculty, staff and visitors.

The University of South Carolina Upstate’s alcohol and drug policy follows the local, state and federal laws regarding alcohol and drugs. All students, faculty, staff and guests are viewed by USC Upstate as individually responsible and legally accountable for their actions regarding alcohol and illegal drugs. While enrolled at the University of South Carolina Upstate students are held to these standards with no regard to location. 

Some of our resources include:

  • Alcohol Education courses for incoming students
  • Educational seminars and presentations
  • Campus events

USC Upstate provides comprehensive alcohol and drug related services to all students on both the main campus and Greenville Campus. We also work to provide information to students and encourage them to address high-risk behaviors associated with heavy alcohol and/or drug use.

A student who is suspected of violating the drug policy while living in on-campus housing will be subject to immediate removal from housing as a response to violating the terms of the housing contract. Students found in violation of the drug policy jeopardize their ability to receive federal and state financial assistance for which they might otherwise be eligible.

Information And Resources

Alcohol and Other Drugs

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 1989.

Faculty, staff and students should be aware of health risks associated with:

  • the use of alcohol, particularly high risk use
  • the use of illicit drugs
  • the misuse of over-the-counter and prescription medications
  • 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
  • interactions of two or more drugs
  • 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.


Alcoholic beverages, in the form of beer, wine, wine coolers or distilled spirits, require no digestion and are absorbed directly into the bloodstream 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. Motor coordination can be affected for up to 10 hours after consumption of the last drink. 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 cirrhosis of the liver. Heavy drinking may cause serious nervous and mental disorders, including permanent brain damage. 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 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 tremors. Severe alcohol withdrawal can be fatal.

Other serious hazards associated with the use of alcohol 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:

  • mental retardation
  • a pattern of abnormal facial and body features
  • 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 women abstain from alcohol.

Marijuana (pot, weed, herb)

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 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.

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. Most people who stop marijuana use note a greatly improved memory within three months.

Marijuana is not currently 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.

Cocaine (coke, blow)

Cocaine occurs in several forms such as cocaine powder, which 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 over stimulating the central nervous system and producing an artificial euphoria, the drug causes a broad range of Rohypnol has no taste or odor and can easily be slipped into an individual’s drink. When used in combination with alcohol, it can cause severe problems with memory and judgment. Feelings of intense sleepiness, black outs and impaired motor skills can make a person unable to resist a sexual assault. You can protect yourself from unknowingly using cocaine by not leaving your drink unattended, by closely watching the person who pours your drink, by not accepting an open drink from a stranger, and by not drinking out of “community” punch bowls or tubs of alcohol.

Amphetamines (Speed, Uppers, Bennies)

Amphetamines are classified as a stimulant and are taken in tablet or pill form. They lead to an increase in heart rate, blood pressure and temperature and can cause visual and auditory hallucinations. Users can become addicted, and over the long term, use of amphetamines can result in paranoid psychosis.

Methamphetamine (Crystal Meth, Crank, Glass, Ice)

Crystal meth is an addictive stimulant that can be injected, snorted, smoked or swallowed. In the short term, use can lead to an increased activity level, a “rush” or feeling of well-being or a “high.” Tolerance (needing more and more of the drug to have the same effect) to the drug can build quickly. Long term users can experience depression, anxiety, paranoia, aggression, insomnia, hallucinations (e.g., “bugs crawling under the skin”), and sometimes suicidal or homicidal thoughts.


You may hear about students buying Ritalin or other drugs from individuals who were prescribed them. Using someone else’s prescription drugs is dangerous and illegal. Ritalin is increasingly being abused among individuals who do not have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). By crushing the pills into a powder and snorting, users may experience a cocaine-like high. However, long term abuse can result in paranoia, anxiety, irregular heartbeat, headaches and hallucinations.

Ecstasy (MDMA)

Ecstasy is a stimulant. Users will experience an increase in body temperature, which may cause them to become dangerously overheated or dehydrated (especially after dancing for an hour at a party or in a club). In fact, these are the most common reasons why ecstasy users end up in the emergency room. In high doses, use may lead to muscle breakdown and kidney and heart failure. Ecstasy interferes with certain chemicals in the brain which regulate mood. As a result, regular users may develop depression, anxiety, sleep problems and paranoia. These symptoms may show up weeks or months after using ecstasy. Further, long term users may experience memory problems, lack of coordination and tremors, blurred vision, rapid eye movement, faintness and nausea.

Rohypnol (the “date rape drug”, roofies, mind erasers)

Rohypnol has no taste or odor and can easily be slipped into an individual’s drink. When used in combination with alcohol, it can cause severe problems with memory and judgment. Feelings of intense sleepiness, black outs and impaired motor skills can make a person unable to resist a sexual assault. You can protect yourself by not leaving your drink unattended, by closely watching the person who pours your drink, by not accepting an open drink from a stranger, and by not drinking out of “community” punch bowls or tubs of alcohol.

Steroids (juice, rhoids)

Steroids are a manufactured testosterone-like drug. In the short-term, steroids may increase muscle mass, strength and endurance. However, use can also lead to liver tumors, jaundice, and high blood pressure. Long-term effects include hypertension, high cholesterol, stunted growth and heart damage. Women may experience an irreversible deepening of the voice. Men may experience shrinking of the testicles and impotence.

Opiates (including Oxycontin, codeine, morphine)

Opiates are usually prescribed for pain relief. When they are not used properly, serious health risks can occur. Abusers may quickly develop a tolerance, which leads directly to addiction. Respiratory depression, changes in mood, vomiting, and damage to the endocrine and autonomic nervous systems can result. If opiates in pill form are crushed and ingested, the drug may enter the blood stream too quickly, leading to overdose. In addition, opiates have a high potential to interact with alcohol and other drugs, possibly causing coma or death.

*Information partially adapted from “The Drug Deal” brochure by Facts on Tap, published by American Council for Drug Education, 2001.

Reducing Your Risks

Alcohol Impairment in any situation can lead to poor judgment. If you choose to drink alcoholic beverages or if you are with people who do, making low-risk, healthy choices can lower your risks of encountering serious problems, such as accidents, injuries, property damage, legal action, broken relationships and more. Alcohol is involved in over 50% of motor vehicle accidents and fatalities. The greatest cause of death for persons aged 16 to 24 is alcohol and drug related accidents. Did you know that about 1,400 college students die each year due to alcohol-related incidents? Remember that choosing not to drink is always acceptable. One in two college students don’t drink at all.

If you do choose to drink:

Resist attempts by others to pressure you into drinking alcoholic beverages or drinking more than you want to drink. Carry an alcohol-free beverage if it helps.

  • Do not take any medications with acetaminophen – this can cause serious liver damage.
  • Put some food in your system. Having something to eat while you are drinking slows down the absorption of alcohol. Eat less fatty foods – fat doesn’t absorb alcohol. Remember, carbonated beverages speed up the absorption of alcohol – so you are affected faster. Use uncarbonated beverages or juices as mixers. Alternate alcohol-free beverages with alcoholic drinks.
  • Don’t binge drink. A “binge” is a pattern of drinking alcohol that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 gram-percent or above. For a typical adult, this pattern corresponds to consuming 5 or more drinks (male), or 4 or more drinks (female) in about 2 hours.
  • Drink in moderation if you choose to drink. Set personal limits on how much you will drink during a night out or at a party, and stick to them. Pace yourself at no more than one drink per hour and do not drink more than 3 drinks in one day. Remember that “one drink” is equal to approximately one 12 ounce beer, a 4 ounce glass of wine, or 1 ounce of 80 proof liquor.
  • Be the designated driver. Plan to ride with someone else or find a place to stay if you do choose to drink alcohol. Do not ride with someone who is under the influence. Do not let friends who are impaired from the use of alcohol (or drugs) drive.
  • Body size is an important factor in considering the effects of alcohol on individuals. Alcohol has a greater effect on persons of lower body weight. Don’t try to keep up with people who are larger than you. Women are typically affected by alcohol more quickly than men.
  • Watch your drink at all times. Date rape drugs, some of which are odorless, colorless, and tasteless, can be easily slipped into unattended drinks.
  • If you are under the age of 21, be aware of drinking age laws. In South Carolina, you must be 21 to legally consume alcoholic beverages, except as a part of a religious ceremony. Consider your relationship with the legal system and be aware of the penalties for underage possession and for the use of false ID cards.
  • Be aware that stress can influence the effects of alcohol. Abstain or reduce your personal limit during an emotional time.
  • Avoid drinking games. Many promote high risk drinking behavior.
  • Stop drinking alcoholic beverages 45 minutes to one hour before the end of an event.
  • Be careful during the heat! Consuming alcohol when you are exposed to heat for an extended amount of time can be risky. The use of alcohol combined with high temperatures can place you at higher risk of having a heat stroke.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol when using other drugs – even cold medicines. The effects can be greatly increased, even dangerous. For example, the use of marijuana suppresses the gag reflex. Your body may not “expel” an excess of alcohol, preventing an alcohol overdose. Some drugs combined with alcohol can also result in overdose because the synergistic effect is much greater than the sum of the two.
  • Remember that the effects of alcohol are greater if you are tired or run down. For women … remember that alcohol affects women more than men. Consider size, fat to lean ratios and hormonal cycles which can influence the effects of alcohol on your body. Avoid drinking during pregnancy, and be careful if you are nursing a baby.
  • Look at your family history, an important part of understanding the role of alcohol in your life. Children of alcoholics are four times more likely to become alcoholic than the general population. If one or both of your parents or grandparents have or had a chemical addiction, you are at a greatly increased risk of addiction.
  • Plan wisely when hosting social events. If alcohol is served at all, plan it as an addition to social activities rather than as the primary focus of the event. Never advertise alcohol as the focus. Limit amounts and restrict access for underage persons. Plan for alternative ways home. Learn the facts about good planning and legal liability.
  • If you are ever concerned about the medical safety of another person, call for medical assistance. Never place an intoxicated person laying face up or face down. Always place the person on his or her side and monitor breathing. (Sources: South Carolina Commission on Alcohol & Drug Abuse, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism, Prevention Research Institute, Inc. and the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol Information.)

Stop Alcohol Poisoning

Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning

  1. Person is unconscious or semi-conscious and cannot be awakened.
  2. Cold, clammy, pale or bluish skin.
  3. Check to see if breathing is slow, less than eight times per minute, or irregular, with ten seconds or more between breaths.
  4. Vomiting while “sleeping” or passed out, and not waking up after vomiting.

If a person has any of these symptoms; he or she is suffering from acute alcohol intoxication.

  1. Get help. Call someone, a staff member, an ambulance, University Police or local enforcement agency, someone who can help.
  2. Do not leave the person alone. Turn the victim on his/her side to prevent choking in case of vomiting.
  3. Always be “better safe than sorry” if you are not sure what to do. How can your friend be angry about you caring for him or her?

*Information gathered from Bacchus and Gamma Peer Educators Network, Inc.

Information On South Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Laws

The University of South Carolina Upstate does not permit possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages by persons under the age of 21 and supports all state alcoholic beverage laws. 

Information On South Carolina Drug Laws

The University of South Carolina Upstate prohibits possession, use, manufacturing and distribution of illegal drugs and supports all applicable state laws.

Alcohol and Drug Resources

USC Upstate recognizes alcohol and/or drug dependence as treatable illnesses. Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to seek assistance for alcohol and/ or drug problems before there is an incident that would cause the University to impose sanctions.

The following resource information is provided for students, faculty and staff:

  • USC Upstate Health Services provides health care and education to all enrolled students on an outpatient basis. 864-503-5191
  • USC Upstate Counseling Center – The Center offers free individual, family and group counseling in a confidential environment. USC Upstate students can access services by visiting the Campus Life Center, Suite 224 or by calling 864-503-5195.
  • USC Upstate University Police – The University Police Department may be reached for emergencies at any time by dialing 911 from campus telephones, cellular phones or off-campus telephones. For non-emergency calls, dial 7777 from campus telephones or 864-503-7777 from cellular telephones or off-campus telephones. For after hours, non-emergency calls dial 864-357-3008.
  • USC Upstate Dean of Students – The Dean of Students supports students’ academic and personal success through crisis intervention as well as upholding standards of the code of student behavior: 864-503-5107
  • USC Upstate Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
  • Local County Alcohol and Drug Abuse Programs (out-patient drug and alcohol counseling and prevention services) 
    The Forrester Center for Behavioral Health (Spartanburg County): 864-582-7588 
    Greenville County Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse: 864-467-3790
  • Local Support Groups
    Al-Anon and ACOA: 864-585-1930 
    Alcoholics Anonymous: 864-585-1930 
    Narcotics Anonymous: 1-800-828-5689
  • Toll-free Resources
    Alcohol and Drug Abuse 24-hour Helpline: 1-800-234-0420 
    Cocaine Hotline: 1-800-COCAINE 
    Drugstore Clearinghouse: 1-800-942-3425
  • Treatment Facilities (in-patient drug and alcohol treatment) 
    Addlife Addiction Services (Greenville): 864-852-8520 
    Center for Behavioral Health (Greer): 864-235-2335 
    Haven for Hope (Spartanburg): 864-472-9083

Related Documents

Alcohol and Other Drugs University Policy

2020 Biennial Review Report – Alcohol and Other Drug Initiatives and Policies

2022 Biennial Review Report – Alcohol and Other Drug Initiatives and Policies