Not using alcohol or other drugs is the healthiest and safest choice. If you choose to drink or use, it is important to be aware of the wide range of effects that substances can have on your judgment, behavior, and physical and mental health, and to consider strategies to lower the risks for harm to yourself and others.


  • More alcohol does not equal a better buzz! While small amounts of alcohol can make you feel “buzzed,” it is a depressant that will cause you to feel more sluggish, tired, and uncoordinated with each additional drink.
  • As a depressant, alcohol inhibits your:
    • Central nervous system – impairing judgment and coordination
    • Respiratory system – impairing breathing
    • Gag reflex – making it possible for you to choke on your own vomit
    • Ability to form memories – causing “blackouts,” or alcohol-induced memory loss
  • Loss of consciousness, or “passing out,” and death may also occur.
  • Your level of intoxication is affected by:
    • How much alcohol is consumed
    • How quickly you drink
    • Weight
    • Biological sex
    • Hormone levels
    • Presence of food in the stomach
    • Stress or fatigue levels
    • Whether or not you have taken medications or other drugs
  • Sobering up takes time – nothing you can do can speed up this process.

Other Drugs

  • Illicit (or “street”) drugs and prescription medications – including stimulants, depressants, hallucinogens, and narcotics – impact your breathing, blood pressure, and heart rate and can also cause confusion, distorted perceptions, altered reaction times, loss of coordination, and/or irrational behavior.
  • As illegal substances, street drugs are unregulated and therefore there is no way of knowing exactly what you are putting in your body. This can result in unpredictable effects with each use.
  • Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is 50 times stronger than heroin, is the primary cause of fatal and non-fatal overdose in the US. A tiny dose the size of a grain of salt can stop breathing. Counterfeit prescription pills that are made to look just like legitimate prescription pills and street drugs (like cocaine, Ecstasy, meth, heroin and even marijuana) can be laced with fentanyl without your knowing.
  • Prescription medications are not a safer alternative to street drugs. When used without the guidance and oversight of a medical professional, the potential for harm may equal that of illicit substances.

Polysubstance Use

  • Taking more than one drug at a time increases the risk of harmful effects, including damage to organs, overdose and death.
  • Illicit drugs and prescription or over-the-counter medications can intensify or mask the effects of alcohol, thereby greatly increasing the risk for accidental overdose and death.
  • If you are taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, pay attention to the warning labels and consult your health care provider or pharmacist about the potential for harmful interaction effects if taken with alcohol or other drugs. In addition, alcohol or other drugs may reduce the effectiveness of the prescription medication.

Other Potential Consequences of Substance Use

  • Impaired judgment may lead to regrettable or dangerous situations.
    • – Illness or injury
    • – Legal trouble
    • – Academic problems
    • – Regretted actions
    • – High-risk sexual activity
    • – Violence
  • Tickets for underage drinking, using a fake id, hosting an illegal tavern (i.e. charging for drinks, cups, or entry to your party), possessing drugs or drug paraphernalia, and other related charges are costly, and may affect your future. Prior convictions can cause loss of financial aid and may lead to lifelong difficulties renting a home and landing a job.
  • Harm from heavy drinking or other drug use affects the wider community, not just those who choose to use. Students report disturbances to their quality of life due to the behaviors of peers who are under the influence, such as:
    • – Personal property damage
    • – Being awakened or kept from studying
    • – Being made to feel unsafe