Counselor talking to a student

Student Drug Use Policy

Counseling Center


The University of South Carolina Aiken recognizes that drug abuse is one of the major problems confronting our society. Within the University community, services are available to reduce the problems associated with drug abuse. Students with drug problems may seek confidential counseling and advice through the USC Aiken Counseling Center and the USC Aiken Student Health Center. A list of additional resources can be found in the USC Aiken Student Handbook. Although the University recognizes the need for providing remedial services, it does not intend to shelter persons who violate state or federal drug or narcotics laws. University officials will assist and cooperate with law enforcement personnel as they perform their duties in controlling drug abuse. Students charged with violating state and federal laws are subject to further disciplinary action by the University.
I. Statement of Policy
The possession, use, manufacture, sale or distribution of any counterfeit, illegal, or controlled drug without a prescription or the possession of drug paraphernalia, such as pipes, bongs, or an items modified or adapted so that they can be used to consume drugs are not permitted on University premises or at any University-sponsored event.
Specific prohibited actions include:
  1. the unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensation, possession, or use of illegal drugs or controlled substances*
  2. being in the presence of illegal drugs or controlled substances
  3. the possession or sale of drug paraphernalia (such as roach clips, bongs, water pipes, cocaine spoons, etc.)
  4. the distribution or delivery of an imitation (“look alike”), non-controlled substance which is represented as a controlled substance
*The term “controlled substances” refers to those drugs and substances whose possession, sale or delivery results in criminal sanctions under South Carolina Law.

II. Sanctions

1. Legal

As citizens, students have the responsibility for knowing and complying with the provisions of state and federal law related to drugs. A student who violates any of these laws is subject to prosecution and punishment through the legal system. Information on federal and state drug laws and penalties is provided in the USC Aiken Student Handbook. (Students who are apprehended and charged by law enforcement agencies with drug-related criminal conduct, off campus are required to inform the Director of Housing and Judicial Affairs). 2. University Disciplinary In addition to any federal and state charges, a student is subject to disciplinary action through the University judicial process. This process may precede criminal or civil proceedings. It is not “double jeopardy” for both the civil authorities and the University to proceed against and sanction a person for the same specified conduct.

2. University Disciplinary

In addition to any federal and state charges, a student is subject to disciplinary action through the University judicial process. This process may precede criminal or civil proceedings. It is not “double jeopardy” for both the civil authorities and the University to proceed against and sanction a person for the same specified conduct.

a. 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 disciplinary procedures included in the Student Handbook. Although violations will be handled on a case by case basis, any violation that is deemed to be a threat to the safety and health of the campus community will result in summary suspension prior to a formal hearing. Sanctions that may be imposed by the University include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Suspension
  • Summary Suspension
  • Suspension Held in Abeyance with Conditions
  • Expulsion
  • Counseling
  • Educational Programs
  • Conditions and Restrictions

3. University Housing

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.

III. Eligibility for Federal and State Financial Assistance

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.

IV. Parental Notification Policy

In 1998, changes in the law that governs the privacy of student records, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), permitted colleges and universities to inform the parents/guardians of students under the age of 21 when they determined the student violated University alcohol and drug policies. At the University of South Carolina Aiken, we believe such notification can help us in educating our students. While we constantly strive to educate and empower students to make more responsible decisions about drug and alcohol usage, we know that the support of parents in this process is critical. The University of South Carolina Aiken typically exercises its right to notify parents of students under 21 in the following situations:

  • Cases involving drug violations
  • Repeat or serious alcohol violations
  • The university also reserves the right to notify parents for first alcohol violations if deemed appropriate.

IV. Future Revisions

The University of South Carolina Aiken reserves the right to update this policy. Stu-dents are responsible for being aware of changes as they are disseminated to the campus community.

Information and Resources:


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. It is intended to benefit students and others associated with the University of South Carolina Aiken. Additional information is available through the resources referenced or through the USCA Office of Student Life and Services.

HEALTH RISKS Faculty, staff and student employees 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.

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 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.

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 users 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 different forms. Cocaine powder 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 brains 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 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 withalcohol 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.


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 acetominophen - 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.
  • Eighty-five percent of USC Aiken students consume 3 or fewer drinks per week or don’t drink at all. (from Fall 2008 CORE Survey of USC Aiken Students).
  • 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.)


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.


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


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



USC Aiken Counseling Center - The Center offers free individual, family and group counseling in a confidential environment. USC Aiken students can access services by visiting the Counseling Center in Suite 126 of the Business and Education Building or by calling 649-3609. AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) - A 12-step program for those who have a desire to stop drinking. Regular meetings are held in various locations in the community; call 648-1509 for schedule and locations.

Al-Anon/Alateen – 12-step programs for families and friends of addicted individuals. Regular meetings are held in various locations in the community; call 648-1509 for schedule and locations.

USC Aiken University Police – For assistance with information, emergencies, safety and law enforcement on the Aiken campus, call 6111 from a campus telephone or 648-4011 from an off-campus telephone.

USCA Employee Assistance Program (EAP) – A resource for faculty and staff of the university. Contact the Human Resources Department by visiting Penland 116 or calling 641-3317. *See below for comprehensive listing of area resources.


Directory of Alchol and Drug Abuse Programs in Aiken and Surrounding Counties