Ask the Experts
These answers are provided by SMU's Center for Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, the Office of the Dean of Student Life, and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
- What are some student substance use risk factors?
- What is considered
high risk and low risk behavior?
- How do I get help if I have a problem with prescription drugs?
- How can students minimize the risks associated
with alcohol and other drugs?
- What does the SMU Student Code of Conduct
about alcohol and drugs?
- Will SMU notify parents if their student gets
- What if a student violates the SMU Code of
Conduct by using or possessing alcohol and/or drugs?
- How do you know when you are an alcoholic?
- What is moderate drinking?
- What is heavy drinking?
- What is alcoholism?
- What is alcohol abuse?
- How do I know if I have a drinking problem?
- Do drugs and alcohol affect a student’s school
- What are some of the effects of marijuana?
- How can you tell if someone has a problem with
using drugs? How can you tell someone they need help?
What are some student substance use risk factors?
- Family history of
- An initial high
tolerance: minimal effects are felt at the onset of alcohol use
acquired high tolerance: due to repeated exposure, more
alcohol is needed to achieve the same effect
High risk drinking behaviors: drinking to get drunk, any
drinking that causes tolerance to increase, drinking games and
contests, doing shots of alcohol
Heavy episodic drinking
- Use of drugs that are
illegal or not prescribed to the student.
What is considered high risk and low risk behavior?
- Thinking about
whether you will drink before the party
- Being 21 or older
- Eating a meal before
- Drinking no more
than one drink per hour; no more than 3 drinks per day
- Always knowing what
you are drinking
alcohol-free drinks throughout the evening
- Knowing how you will
get home safely before you go out
- Abstaining is the
lowest risk choice
- Chugging, drinking
games, shots (drinking anything out of a punch bowl, trough, hose or
- Drinking to get
- Driving after
drinking or riding with someone under the influence
- Drinking if you are younger than 21
- Drinking too much or
too fast on an empty stomach
- Going to parties
where people drink too much
- Not knowing what is
in your glass or leaving it unattended
- Mixing alcohol with any medications or illegal
How do I get help if I have a problem with prescription drugs?
If you or someone you know is abusing or misusing prescription
drugs, you are urged to contact SMU's
Center for Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention at 214-768-4021.
Assessments, interventions, referrals and short-term counseling, as
well as ongoing support for recovering students, are available at
Find out more.
How can students minimize the risks associated with alcohol and other
Substance use presents
obvious immediate health risks such as alcohol poisoning and death from
overdose. Less obvious health risks from substance use include:
- A decrease in the
ability to make safe and healthy decisions
- The increase in
violence associated with alcohol and other drugs
- The increased likelihood of sexual assault
What does the SMU Student Code of Conduct say about alcohol and drugs?
enforces state law
and prohibits the possession and consumption of alcohol by those younger
than 21, as well as the use, sale, possession or manufacturing of any
controlled substance. In addition, SMU prohibits the possession and consumption of alcoholic beverages in public places. A complete copy of the SMU Student Handbook can be
found at SMU Student Life.
Find information about
the University alcohol and drug use policies for students living in
on-campus housing here.
Will SMU notify parents if their student gets “into trouble”?
SMU looks to parents as partners in this fight against the increasing use and abuse of alcohol and other drugs. Except in unusual circumstances, parents are informed by the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards of issues involving their students as follows:
Please make sure your student maintains current contact information on
file with the Registrar’s Office and in
- If a student is found responsible for a violation of the alcohol or drug policies.
- In emergency situations, such as a student hospitalization for a serious health matter, the Office of the Dean of Student Life may call the parents.
What if a student violates the SMU Code of Conduct by using or possessing
When the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards is made aware of a potential violation of the Student Code of Conduct, whether on or off campus, the office will contact the student and schedule a hearing with a conduct officer. During the hearing, the student will have the opportunity to discuss the alleged violation.
If it is determined that the student is responsible for the violation, the appropriate sanctions will be assigned. Sanctions for alcohol or drug violations may include but are not limited to: parent notification, a fine, a referral to the Center for Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, educational sanctions and a status sanction that may or may not affect the student’s standing with the University. We are available to answer questions at 214-768-4563.
SPECIAL NOTE: SMU enforces the state law which prohibits the possession
and consumption of alcohol by those students under the age of 21 and the
misuse of alcohol for those students over the age of 21. SMU also
requires compliance with all local, state and federal laws regarding
controlled substances to include, but not limited to, their use, sale,
possession or manufacture.
Additional Legal Ramifications
In addition to
violating the Student Code of Conduct, a student’s behavior may also be
a violation of the law. In these cases, action by law enforcement
authorities may also occur. Thus, students may be adjudicated through
the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards as well as through the court system.
Alcohol: Minors convicted in the criminal court system of possession or
consumption of alcoholic beverages may be subject to fines, suspension
of driver's license, community service and a mandatory alcohol education
class. Convictions for providing alcohol to minors may subject
individuals to fines and a jail term of up to one year. Convictions for
driving while intoxicated may subject individuals to fines totaling as
much as $2,000 and a jail term of up to six months for a first offense.
Fines and jail terms escalate after the first conviction.
Substance (Drugs): Sanctions upon conviction in the criminal court
system for possession, distribution or manufacture of controlled
substances range from fines to probation to imprisonment. Amount of
fines, terms of probation, or years of imprisonment generally are
contingent upon the circumstances and amounts of drugs in possession,
sale, distribution or manufacture.
License or Certificate: Students under the age of 21 may not posses documentation which represents them as being 21 years of age or older. Texas law states, “A person under the age of 21 years commits an offense if the person possesses, with the intent to represent that the person is 21 years of age or older, a document that is deceptively similar to a driver’s license or a personal identification certificate unless the document displays the statement ‘NOT A GOVERNMENT DOCUMENT’ diagonally printed clearly and indelibly on both the front and back of the document in solid red capital letters at least one-fourth inch in height.” This type of offense is a Class C misdemeanor.
How do you know when you are an alcoholic?
Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that reduces anxiety,
inhibition and feelings of guilt. It lowers alertness, impairs
perception, judgment and motor coordination. In high doses, it can
cause loss of consciousness and even death. Chronic alcoholism damages
the brain, liver, heart and other organs.
Spotting the signs and symptoms of alcoholism is not always easy. While
daily drinking, drinking-related arrests or job loss can be signs of
alcoholism, they tend to happen late in the disease. Many signs occur
earlier, yet are harder to detect. These signs include:
- An increasing tolerance to the effects of alcohol. You may have
heard the expression that someone can “hold their liquor.” This is not
seen as a sign that this person will not have problems with alcohol. In
fact, this may be an early sign of the disease.
- A growing preoccupation or interest in drinking, drinking alone or
a drink before an activity with drinking. It may seem as though one simply
enjoys drinking. We now know that these signs are the first symptoms of
- A person will dispute there is a problem. This symptom, called
denial, is almost always present in alcoholism.
- Hiding alcohol or sneaking drinks, gulping the first few drinks,
wanting to drink more, or longer, than the rest of the crowd or losing
control of drinking, leading to attempts to control it ("going on the
What is moderate drinking?
Based on current dietary guidelines, moderate drinking for women is
defined as an average of 1 drink or less per day. Moderate drinking for
men is defined as an average of 2 drinks or less per day (USDA).
What is heavy drinking?
Heavy drinking is consuming alcohol in excess of 1 drink per day on
average for women and greater than 2 drinks per day on average for men (NIAAA).
What is alcoholism?
Alcoholism is a primary, chronic disease with genetic, psychosocial
and environmental factors influencing its development and
manifestations. The disease is often progressive and fatal. It is
characterized by continuous or periodic: impaired control over drinking,
preoccupation with the drug alcohol, use of alcohol use despite adverse
consequences, and distortions in thinking, most notably denial (American Society of Addictive Medicine).
What is alcohol abuse?
Alcohol abuse is characterized by recurrent alcohol-related problems,
including problems with relationships, job performance, or both; the use
of alcohol in hazardous situations (e.g., while driving a car); or some
combination of these (DSM IV, 1994).
How do I know if I have a drinking problem?
Drinking is a problem if it causes trouble in your
relationships, in school, in social activities, or in how you think and
feel. If you are concerned that either you or someone in your family
might have a drinking problem, it is important that you consult a
professional counselor or physician. Questionnaires and other tools can
be useful to screen for drinking problems. Additional information on
screening for alcohol problems may be obtained from the National
Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
Do drugs and alcohol affect a student’s school performance?
In the United States,
159,000 of first-year college students will drop out of school
next year for alcohol or other related reasons. Almost 1/3 of college
students nationwide admit to having missed class at least once because
of alcohol or drug use. Some 30 percent of college failure is alcohol related.
What are some of the effects of marijuana?
Marijuana affects the nerve cells in your brain
where memory is formed. There are 400 known chemicals in marijuana. It
can limit your body’s ability to fight off infections. Long-term
marijuana use can increase the risk of developing certain mental
illness. Marijuana takes away motivation, impairs judgment and can make
you feel anxious.
A few effects of
marijuana: slow thinking, slow reflexes, reduced coordination and
concentration, reduced motivation, mood swings, memory impairment, panic
attacks, delusions, paranoid thinking and other mental health problems,
risk of lung cancer and chronic bronchitis.
How can you tell if someone has a problem with
using drugs? How can you tell someone they need help?
When the other person’s behavior causes you
problems or concerns, it is time to do something. Explain your reasons
for being concerned (in a nonconfrontational manner) in relation to
behaviors the person exhibits. Focus on the friend’s negative
behavior. Some behaviors of concern are:
- Missing class due to drinking or drug use
- Use of alcohol or drugs to help study or
perform in school
- Reputation as a partier
- Guilt or remorse because of drinking or drug
- Loss of memory due to use
- Change in friends since starting to use
- Use of alcohol or drugs to help function the
day after partying
- Others or friends telling a person he or she uses too much
- Use of alcohol or drugs to build self
confidence or decrease stress
- Drinking or using alone
- Negative experiences because of use
- Becoming a different person under the
- Lying about use, planning not to use but doing
it anyway, or drinking more than intended
Contact the SMU Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Center for more information at 214-768-4021.