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Alcohol and Other Drugs

Remember not everyone drinks. Specifically, 42 percent of first-year undergraduate Clemson University students in their second semester indicated they had never used alcohol (NCHA, 2016).

In addition, 54 percent of Clemson first-year students reported not drinking alcohol in the past 30 days (NCHA, 2016). *spring semester*

They may not drink because they are not 21 years of age, health concerns, or personal or cultural values and beliefs.

Stats from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Death: 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die each year from alcohol-related unintentional injuries.

Assault: More than 690,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking.

Sexual Abuse: More than 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or acquaintance rape.

Injury: 599,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 receive unintentional injuries while under the influence of alcohol.

Academic Problems: About 25 percent of college students report academic consequences of their drinking including missing class, falling behind, doing poorly on exams or papers, and receiving lower grades overall.

It’s not just alcohol but drugs too. Only 21.7 percent of Clemson students reported they are current users of an illegal drug in the past year (including marijuana), but 44.9 percent of students believe the average student on this campus uses some form of illegal drug at least once a week (Core, 2014).

Although alcohol can create a relaxed and “up” feeling, many students incorrectly assume the more alcohol they consume, the better they will feel, when it is actually just the opposite. The effect is known as the point of diminishing return.

When you pass a 0.06 BAC level, negative effects begin. These symptoms include fatigue, impaired sexual performance, inappropriate social behavior and over-expressed emotions (Adapted from the University of Rochester).

BAC Level/Point of Diminishing Return

The body can process about one standard drink per hour. If you drink more than one drink per hour, such as taking shots, your BAC will rise and your body will begin to shut down.

BAC Levels Graph

It is important to note that the physiological differences between men and women affect the way alcohol is processed through the body. Even if a man and a woman are the same size and drink the same number and type of drinks, the woman’s BAC level will be higher due to the body’s ability to dilute alcohol and metabolize alcohol differently as well as hormonal factors.

BAC Men vs Women

.08 BAC Legal Limit. (n.d.). Retrieved from URL

Standard Drink Sizes

The amount of liquid in your glass, can or bottle does not necessarily match up to how much alcohol is actually in your drink. Different types of beer, wine or malt liquor can have very different amounts of alcohol content. In the United States, one "standard" drink contains roughly 14 grams of pure alcohol, which is found in

  • 12 ounces of regular beer, which is usually about 5% alcohol;

  • 5 ounces of wine, which is typically about 12% alcohol;

  • 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits, which is about 40% alcohol.

How do you know how much alcohol is in your drink?

Even though they come in different sizes, the drinks below are each examples of one standard drink:

Standard Drink Size

What Is A Standard Drink? (n.d.). Retrieved from URL

Risk Reduction Behaviors

  • Alternate alcohol and non-alcoholic drinks (water or even fizzy water that looks like a drink to take pressure off of not drinking)

  • Stay with the same group of friends the entire time of drinking

  • Choose not to drink alcohol

  • Take an intoxicated friend’s keys

  • Don’t drive/use a designated driver (Aspire to Be Safe - Use the Safety section of the my.Clemson app)

  • Avoid drinking games

  • Pace drinks to one or fewer an hour

  • Do not accept an open container of alcohol

  • Plan your way home before you go out


Alcohol depresses nerves that control involuntary actions such as breathing and the gag reflex (which prevents choking). A fatal dose of alcohol will eventually stop these functions.

It is common for someone who drank excessive alcohol to vomit since alcohol is an irritant to the stomach. There is then the danger of choking on vomit, which could cause death by asphyxiation in a person who is not conscious because of intoxication.

You should also know that a person's blood alcohol concentration (BAC) could continue to rise even while he or she is passed out. Even after a person stops drinking, alcohol in the stomach and intestine continues to enter the bloodstream and circulate throughout the body. It is dangerous to assume the person will be fine by sleeping it off.

Critical Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning

  • Mental confusion, stupor, coma or person cannot be roused

  • Vomiting

  • Seizures

  • Slow breathing (fewer than eight breaths per minute)

  • Irregular breathing (10 seconds or more between breaths)

  • Hypothermia (low body temperature), bluish skin color, paleness

What to Do if You Suspect Someone Has Alcohol Poisoning

  • Know the danger signals.

  • Do not wait for all symptoms to be present.

  • Be aware that a person who has passed out may die.

  • If there is any suspicion of an alcohol overdose, call 911 for help. Don't try to guess the level of drunkenness.

Alcohol poisoning is a medical emergency. Our first priority is the safety of our students. If you think a friend might have alcohol poisoning, please get help. The Clemson University Police Department (864-656-2222) or 911 are the quickest resources to help a friend in need. 

Alcohol and Other Drug Resources
BAC Calculator

Facts About Alcohol Poisoning. (n.d.). Retrieved from URL

Make no mistake about it: alcohol poisoning is a medical emergency. Our first priority is the safety of our students. If you think a friend might have alcohol poisoning, please get help. The Clemson University Police Department (864-656-2222) or 911 are the quickest resources to help a friend in need.

Clemson University has a Medical Alcohol Amnesty Policy (MAAP) that provides amnesty for students who need medical attention as well as the students who make the call for help. Those students who utilize MAAP will be contacted by someone from the Office of Advocacy and Success to ensure that they have the resources they need in order to be a successful Clemson student.

Clemson also has a CARE Network in place to help students experiencing difficulties. If you feel a friend has a problem with drugs or alcohol and it is not an emergency, you can submit a CARE report or contact Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at 864-656-2451. These and other resources are available on the go in the Safety section of the my.Clemson app.

Remember: Dont worry about the consequences of helping someone. We're all Clemson Tigers. Look out for one another.

Alcohol and Other Drug Resources

Office of Community and Ethical Standards

The four big points you need to know about Clemson University and drug use are as follows:

A Leading Cause of Death

Deaths from drug overdose have been rising steadily over the past two decades and have become the leading cause of injury death in the United States.


*More DEATHS from accidental drug overdose than car accidents

Dangerous Interactions

The danger is that many over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription drugs, especially when mixed with alcohol, have synergistic effect. For example, prescription pain relievers and alcohol both slow breathing. By ingesting too much of both, someone can literally stop breathing. Read the labels and check with the pharmacist before combining any medications and/or drugs.

Unknown Substance

Many drugs are not regulated by the FDA; therefore, there is no way to know what is actually in them. Remember, if you do not know what is in it or the concentration, neither will the emergency medical personnel.


Adderall, Vyvanse, Dexedrine, Ritalin and Concerta are classified as Schedule II drugs. Possessing these drugs without a prescription, even in small quantities, is considered a crime. If the authorities believe you are intending to distribute these drugs, it is a felony, and you can face up to five to twenty years in prison, a $250,000 to $5 million fine, or both.

Street Names:  dope, ganja, grass, herb, mary jane, pot, reefer, weed, 420

It’s not just one drug, like cocaine, that students have misperceptions around; it's most of them. Only 12.8 percent of Clemson students reported that they are current users of marijuana in the past 30 days, but 83.1 percent of students believe the average student on this campus uses marijuana at least once a month (NCHA, 2016).

Marijuana has both short and long term effects on the brain. Short term effects include impaired body movement, difficulty thinking or problem solving, and impaired memory. Long term effects include brain development and loss up to 8 IQ points that may be permanent. In addition to the effects marijuana has on your brain, it can have physical effects on the body:

  • Breathing problems – frequent marijuana users can develop the same breathing problems tobacco users have (daily cough and phlegm, lung illnesses, higher risk of lung infection)

  • Increased heart rate – raises heart rate up to 3 hours after smoking; increased chance of heart attack

  • Problems with child development during and after pregnancy

How marijuana can impact your life:

  • Lower life satisfaction

  • Poorer mental health

  • Poorer physical health

  • More relationship problems

Regardless of your stance on the legalization of marijuana, it is illegal in the state of South Carolina and therefore an illegal drug on campus. It will be treated as an illegal substance in disciplinary action. 

DrugFacts: Marijuana. (n.d.). Retrieved from URL

Prescription drug abuse is the use of a prescription medication in a way not intended by the prescribing doctor, such as for the feelings you get from the drug.

The classes of prescription drugs most commonly abused are: opioid pain relievers, such as Vicodin or Oxycontin; stimulants for treating Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), such as Adderall, Concerta or Ritalin; and central nervous system (CNS) depressants for relieving anxiety, such as Valium or Xanax. The most commonly abused over-the-counter (OTC) drugs are cough and cold remedies containing dextromethorphan.

People often think that prescription and OTC drugs are safer than illicit drugs, but that’s only true when they are taken exactly as prescribed and for the purpose intended. When abused, prescription and OTC drugs can be addictive and put abusers at risk for other adverse health effects, including overdose—especially when taken along with other drugs or alcohol.

DrugFacts: Prescription and Over-the-Counter Medications. (n.d.). Retrieved from URL

Street Names: addy, speed, uppers

Stimulant medications, including amphetamines (e.g., Adderall) and methylphenidate (e.g., Ritalin and Concerta), are often prescribed to treat children, adolescents or adults diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Do Prescription Stimulants Make You Smarter?

A growing number of teenagers and young adults are abusing prescription stimulants to boost their study performance in an effort to improve their grades in school, and there is a widespread belief that these drugs can improve a person's ability to learn ("cognitive enhancement").

Prescription stimulants do promote wakefulness, but studies have found that they do not enhance learning or thinking ability when taken by people who do not actually have ADHD. Also, research has shown that students who abuse prescription stimulants actually have lower GPAs in high school and college than those who don't.

Stimulants can increase blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature and decrease sleep and appetite. When they are abused, they can lead to malnutrition and its consequences. Repeated abuse of stimulants can lead to feelings of hostility and paranoia. At high doses, they can lead to serious cardiovascular complications, including stroke.

DrugFacts: Stimulant ADHD Medications: Methylphenidate and Amphetamines. (n.d.). Retrieved from URL

Street Names: downers, heroine, hillybilly, oxy  
Opioid pain relievers, such as OxyContin, attach to the same cell receptors targeted by illegal opioids like heroin. Prescription depressants produce sedating or calming effects in the same manner as the club drugs Gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB) and rohypnol.  When taken in very high doses, dextromethorphan acts on the same cell receptors as PCP or ketamine, producing similar out-of-body experiences.
Opioids can produce drowsiness, cause constipation, and—depending upon the amount taken—depress breathing. The latter effect makes opioids particularly dangerous, especially when they are snorted or injected or combined with other drugs or alcohol. More people die from overdoses of prescription opioids than from all other drugs combined, including heroin and cocaine.
Central nervous system depressants slow down brain activity and can cause sleepiness and loss of coordination. Continued use can lead to physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms if discontinuing use.
Dextromethorphan can cause impaired motor function, numbness, nausea or vomiting, and increased heart rate and blood pressure. On rare occasions, hypoxic brain damage—caused by severe respiratory depression and a lack of oxygen to the brain—has occurred due to the combination of dextromethorphan with decongestants often found in the medication.

DrugFacts: Prescription and Over-the-Counter Medications. (n.d.). Retrieved from URL

Street Names:  crank, crystal meth, forget me pill, kit kat, liquid e, liquid x, liquid ecstasy, lollipops, meth, molly, poppers, roach, roches, roofie, special k, speed, super speed, vitamin k, xtc
Club drugs are a pharmacologically heterogeneous group of psychoactive drugs that tend to be abused by teens and young adults at bars, nightclubs, concerts and parties. Gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB), Rohypnol, ketamine, as well as MDMA (ecstasy) and methamphetamine are some of the drugs included in this group.
GHB and Rohypnol are available in odorless, colorless and tasteless forms that are frequently combined with alcohol and other beverages. Both drugs have been used to commit sexual assaults (also known as “date rape,” “drug rape,” “acquaintance rape,” or “drug-assisted” assault) due to their ability to sedate and incapacitate unsuspecting victims, preventing them from resisting sexual assault.
Uncertainties about the sources, chemicals and possible contaminants used to manufacture many club drugs make it extremely difficult to determine toxicity and associated medical consequences. Nonetheless, we do know the following: 

  • Coma and seizures can occur following use of GHB. Combined use with other drugs such as alcohol can result in nausea and breathing difficulties.

  • Rohypnol may be lethal when mixed with alcohol and/or other central nervous system depressants.

  • Ketamine, in high doses, can cause impaired motor function, high blood pressure and potentially fatal respiratory problems.

DrugFacts: Club Drugs (GHB, Ketamine, and Rohypnol). (n.d.). Retrieved from URL

Street Names:  blow, c, coke, crack, lady, nose candy, snow
Cocaine affects the body in a variety of ways. It constricts blood vessels, dilates pupils and increases body temperature, heart rate and blood pressure. It can also cause headaches and gastrointestinal complications such as abdominal pain and nausea. Because cocaine tends to decrease appetite, chronic users can become malnourished as well.
Most seriously, people who use cocaine can suffer heart attacks or strokes, which may cause sudden death. Cocaine-related deaths are often a result of the heart stopping (cardiac arrest) followed by an arrest of breathing.
Cocaine is more dangerous when combined with other drugs or alcohol (poly-drug use). For example, the combination of cocaine and heroin (known as a “speedball”), carries a particularly high risk of fatal overdose.

DrugFacts: Cocaine. (n.d.). Retrieved from URL

Street Names:  acid, angel dust, mushrooms, sherm, shrooms
Importantly, and unlike most other drugs, the effects of hallucinogens are highly variable and unreliable, producing different effects in different people at different times. This is mainly due to the significant variations in amount and composition of active compounds, particularly in the hallucinogens derived from plants and mushrooms. Because of their unpredictable nature, the use of hallucinogens can be particularly dangerous.


The effects of LSD depend largely on the amount taken. LSD causes dilated pupils, can raise body temperature and increase heart rate and blood pressure, and can cause profuse sweating, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, dry mouth and tremors.


The effects of peyote can be similar to those of LSD, including increased body temperature and heart rate, uncoordinated movements (ataxia), profound sweating and flushing.


Psilocybin can produce muscle relaxation or weakness, ataxia, excessive pupil dilation, nausea, vomiting and drowsiness. Individuals who abuse psilocybin mushrooms also risk poisoning if one of many existing varieties of poisonous mushrooms is incorrectly identified as a psilocybin mushroom.


At low-to-moderate doses, physiological effects of PCP include a slight increase in breathing rate and a pronounced rise in blood pressure and pulse rate. Breathing becomes shallow; flushing and profuse sweating, generalized numbness of the extremities and loss of muscular coordination may occur. At high doses, blood pressure, pulse rate and respiration drop. This may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, flicking up and down of the eyes, drooling, loss of balance and dizziness. PCP abusers are often brought to emergency rooms because of overdose or because of the drug’s severe untoward psychological effects. While intoxicated, PCP abusers may become violent or suicidal and are therefore dangerous to themselves and others. High doses of PCP can also cause seizures, coma and death (though death more often results from accidental injury or suicide during PCP intoxication). Because PCP can also have sedative effects, interactions with other central nervous system depressants, such as alcohol and benzodiazepines, can also lead to coma.

DrugFacts: Hallucinogens - LSD, Peyote, Psilocybin, and PCP. (n.d.). Retrieved from URL

Clemson and Sober AA Meeting in Redfern Health Center

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) 

CAPS is located in Redfern Health Center and is the University's only facility for personal counseling, psychological testing, outreach and consultation. An after-hours CAPS counselor is available and can be reached at 864-656-2222.

CARE Network 

While students on Clemson’s campus deal with many challenging situations every day, the CARE Network is designed to track those incidents that are deemed “critical” and/or which may indicate unusual or harmful student behavior or trends. FILE A CARE REPORT

Medical Alcohol Amnesty Policy (MAAP)

Clemson University Police Department (CUPD)


Additional Resources on Alcohol and Other Drugs

Additional Information on Alcohol and Other Drugs

HEalthy Campus mental Health
Healthy campus aod
Healthy campus interpersonal violence