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 Drug Free Schools Act

As an institution of higher education, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth is required to comply with the provisions of the Drug Free Schools and Campuses Regulations. This notice provides you with information about UMass Dartmouth's alcohol and other drug policies, State and Federal laws relative to alcohol and other drugs, the health consequences of alcohol and other drug use and abuse, and resources available to assist with alcohol or other drug concerns.

UMass Dartmouth's Alcohol and Other Drug Policy and Associated Sanctions

UMass Dartmouth's Alcohol and Other Drug Policy clearly prohibits the unlawful possession, use, or distribution of illicit drugs and alcohol on school property or as part of any school activities. Sanctions will be imposed on students found in violation of the university's Alcohol and Drug Policy. Sanctions are cumulative throughout a student's entire enrollment at UMass Dartmouth and differ depending upon the student's disciplinary history and the severity of the violation. The Alcohol and Drug Policy and associated sanctions—up to and including dismissal from the university—are outlined in the Student Handbook

Applicable Federal, State, and Local Laws

UMass Dartmouth will comply with all requirements of applicable laws concerning the illegal possession, use, or distribution of drugs and alcohol. Specific legislation regarding local and state sanctions for the unlawful possession or distribution of illicit drugs and alcohol is on file with the Department of Public Safety.

They include:

  1. Chapter 94C, The Controlled Substances Laws lists specific controlled substances in Classes A, B, C, D, E (including marijuana, cocaine, morphine, opium, heroin, etc.) and also lists criminal penalties for any prohibited use of these substances. These include forfeiture of property as well as imprisonment and other criminal penalties. The law also prohibits misuse of drug paraphernalia.
  2. Chapter 138, Alcoholic Liquors, regulates the sale of alcohol to minors, the use of any false identification to obtain alcohol, making false statements as to age to obtain alcohol, and minors in possession of alcohol, minors transporting alcohol, etc.
  3. Chapter 90, Section 24, Operating Under the Influence Law
  4. The ordinance of the Town of Dartmouth prohibits public consumption of alcoholic beverages and marijuana. Sanctioned areas of the campus where alcoholic beverages may be legally sold, served, and consumed are described in the Student Handbook.

Federal penalties and sanctions for the illegal possession of a controlled substance are detailed in the Controlled Substances Act. They include: 21 U.S.C.S. 862, Denial of Federal benefits, including student loans, grants, contracts, and professional commercial licenses. Persons convicted of illegal possession may be denied these benefits for up to one year for a first offense and up to five years for second and subsequent offenses. Persons convicted of drug trafficking may be denied these benefits for up to five years for a first offense and up to 10 years for a second offense. Upon a third or subsequent drug trafficking conviction, a person may be permanently ineligible for all Federal benefits.

Health Risks Associated with Alcohol Abuse and Drug Use

This is a summary of the health risks associated with the three most common categories of drugs used and abused by today's college students. For additional information on these or other drugs, please review the web resources listed below or contact LiveWell: The Office of Health Education, Promotion, and Wellness at 508.910.6965.


Alcohol is the most used drug among college students. The majority of students who choose to drink alcohol do so responsibly most of the time.

However, of great concern for college students is high-risk drinking, often referred to as "binge drinking". For men, high-risk drinking is defined consumption of five or more alcoholic drinks in a row. For women, high-risk drinking is defined as the consumption of four or more alcoholic drinks in a row.

The consequences of high-risk drinking pose a serious public health concern for college students between the ages of 18 and 24, as the following statistics illustrate:

  • Academic Problems: About 25% 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.
  • Alcohol Abuse and Dependence: 31% of college students met the criteria for a diagnosis of alcohol abuse and 6% for a diagnosis of alcohol dependence in the past year, according to questionnaire-based self-reports about their drinking.
  • Assault: More than 690,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking.
  • Health Problems/Suicide Attempts: More than 150,000 students develop an alcohol-related health problem and between 1.2 and 1.5 percent of students indicate that they attempted suicide within the past year due to drinking or drug use.
  • Injury: 599,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 receive unintentional injuries while under the influence of alcohol.
  • Sexual Violence: More than 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or rape.
  • Death: 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die each year from alcohol-related unintentional injuries.


Marijuana, which is classified as a hallucinogen, is the most widely used illicit drug among college students.

The nature and intensity of the effects of marijuana use vary according to the dose, the species or hybridization of the source plant, the method of consumption, the user's mental and physical characteristics, and the environment of consumption. Marijuana use produces a broad spectrum of possible cognitive, behavioral, or perceptual effects, the occurrence of which varies from user to user. Some of these are the intended effect desired by users, some may be considered desirable depending on the situation, and others are generally considered undesirable. Common effects of marijuana use include increased heart rate; dryness of the mouth; reddening of the eyes; impairment of motor skills, concentration, and short-term memory; enhanced sensory experiences; and an increased sense of well-being.

Marijuana use is considered by some riskier today than in past decades because much of the drug is cultivated to increase its potency. Also of concern is the fact that not all marijuana is "pure"; it may be laced with drugs (including PCP, LSD, cocaine) or other harmful substances. Marijuana is less addictive than many other drugs; however, approximately 10% of users will develop problems severe enough to impact their work and relationships.

Prescription & over-the-counter medications

Nationally, non-medical use of prescription medication is the second most common category of illicit drug use (second only to marijuana). The four most common categories of medications used non-medically are (in order of magnitude of abuse) opioids (pain killers), benzodiazepines (anti-anxiety medications), amphetamines/stimulants (ADHD medications), and over-the-counter medications (often, cough and cold medications).

Prescription medications are often obtained (shared, stolen, or purchased) from someone with a prescription. Many prescription medications are also illegally "pharmed" on the internet; these medications are potentially counterfeit, adulterated, or contaminated. The effects of prescription and over-the-counter drug abuse vary according to the medication, the dose, the method of consumption, the user's mental and physical characteristics, and other factors. Misuse of any drug can lead to dependence. Some medications, used alone in sufficient doses, or in combination with alcohol, can be lethal.

Alcohol and Drug Help Resources

This is only a partial listing of many available treatment and recovery resources.

Counseling Center staff can assist students concerned about their use of alcohol or other drugs. Help is also available to students who are concerned with or affected by the use/abuse of alcohol or other drugs by a family member, friend, or roommate. Call 508.999.8650.

Rethinking Drinking

Drinking can be beneficial or harmful, depending on your age and health status, and, of course, how much you drink. For anyone who drinks, this site offers valuable, research-based information. What do you think about taking a look at your drinking habits and how they may affect your health? Rethinking Drinking can help you get started.

Massachusetts Substance Abuse Information and Education Helpline

The Helpline provides consumers with comprehensive, accurate, and current information about alcohol and drug treatment and prevention services throughout Massachusetts. Free and confidential. 24/7.

Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator
1.800.622.HELP (4357)

The searchable directory of drug and alcohol treatment programs shows the location of facilities around the country that treat alcoholism, alcohol abuse, and drug abuse problems.

Alcoholics Anonymous World Services

Alcoholics Anonymous is a voluntary, worldwide fellowship of men and women who meet together to attain and maintain sobriety through a 12-step program. Visit this site for more information and a searchable directory of offices in U.S. and Canada. Contact the office closest to your address for support group meeting locations and times.

Al-Anon Family Groups

The two branches of the Al-Anon Family Groups include Al-Anon and Alateen, serving adults and teens who are relatives and friends of alcoholics. Visit this site for more information and a searchable directory of offices in U.S. and Canada. Contact the office closest to your address for support group meeting locations and times.
Massachusetts Al-Anon Alateen

Narcotics Anonymous
(New England Region of N.A.—Serving Eastern MA & RI)

Narcotics Anonymous is an international, community-based association of recovering drug addicts with more than 33,500 weekly meetings in over 116 countries worldwide. Visit the New England Region of Narcotics Anonymous website for regional support group meeting times and locations.

Nar-Anon Family Groups

Nar-Anon serves adults and teens who are relatives and friends of someone with a drug problem or addiction. Visit this site for more information and a searchable directory of support groups in the U.S. and abroad.

Marijuana Anonymous

Marijuana Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who meet together to recover from marijuana addiction through a 12-step program modeled upon that of Alcoholic Anonymous. Call for support group meeting times and locations.
Online meeting support

Additional resources

LiveWell maintains health and wellness resource information—including information on alcohol and other drugs—on their website. For assistance locating resources that meet your needs, call 508.910.6965.