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Alcohol and Other Drugs

Celebrate Safely

Remember, not everyone drinks. Specifically, 68 percent of incoming Clemson University freshmen students in 2013 did not drink (Alcohol Edu, Clemson University, 2013).

In addition, 42 percent of Clemson first-year students reported not drinking in the past 30 days in their second semester at Clemson (Core, 2014).

They may not drink because they are not 21 years of age, health concerns, or personal and cultural values and beliefs. There are many ways to have fun and socialize at Clemson University.

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).

Clemson's Philosophy

Clemson University is committed to maintaining an environment that is healthy, safe and attractive for all members of the community. Students who choose to use alcohol and other drugs assume a responsibility to comply with South Carolina laws and University policies, to make decisions that reduce their personal risks, and to consider the health and safety risks posed to others. The University provides education, programs, and policies to empower students to make responsible decisions relating to alcohol and other drug consumption. Students who choose to violate University policy related to alcohol and other drug use are subject to discipline as outlined in the student code of conduct. Where those actions also violate state and/or federal law, students are subject to legal consequences as well.

Our Strategy

In the spring 2014, Clemson University and community stakeholders developed the Alcohol and Other Drug Strategic Plan. Clemson University’s Alcohol and Other Drug Strategic Plan includes targets set for 10% improvement by 2020 as compared to 2010 national baseline, established as a composite of CORE data from 2009-2011, in the following measures:

  • High-risk drinking and illegal drug use

  • Consequences of alcohol and drug use

  • Protective behaviors

Strategic focus areas include

  • prevention,

  • intervention and treatment,

  • environmental management, and

  • protective measures.

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

  • 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

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

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.

  • Roll them over to prevent choking – see the BACCHUS Maneuver video below

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. 

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 Dean of Students Office 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. Were all Clemson Tigers. Look out for one another.

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

Marijuana is the most common illicit drug used in the United States. After a period of decline in the last decade, its use has been increasing among young people since 2007, corresponding to a diminishing perception of the drug’s risks that may be associated with increased public debate over the drug’s legal status.

Marijuana also affects brain development, and when it is used heavily by young people, its effects on thinking and memory may last a long time or even be permanent. A recent study of marijuana users who began using in adolescence revealed substantially reduced connectivity among brain areas responsible for learning and memory. A large long-term study in New Zealand showed that people who began smoking marijuana heavily in their teens lost an average of eight points in IQ between age 13 and age 38. Importantly, the lost cognitive abilities were not fully restored in those who quit smoking marijuana as adults. Those who started smoking marijuana in adulthood did not show significant IQ declines.

Associations have also been found between marijuana use and other mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts among adolescents and personality disturbances, including a lack of motivation to engage in typically rewarding activities. More research is still needed to confirm and better understand these linkages.

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.

Prescription Drug Take-Back

If you or a friend would like to dispose of unused or unwanted prescription medications, you can do so 24 hours a day/seven days a week at the City of Clemson Police Department at 1198 Tiger Boulevard, Clemson, SC.  LEARN MORE

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

Bystander Intervention