Alcohol & Drug Information


Champlain College's Student Handbook outlines our dry-campus alcohol policy.


Alcohol and other drugs are prevalent on college campuses. Whether you are concerned about legal drugs such as alcohol, or illegal drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, or ecstasy, everyone has to make decisions about drugs. You must first realize that the decision to use alcohol or other drugs is a personal one with potentially serious legal and health consequences. It is up to you to determine if, when, and how much you drink or use. Know your limits and weaknesses and take responsibility for them. Consider your reasons for using alcohol or other drugs. Is it to feel good, or to be more socially comfortable? What are your alternatives? Which ones are healthy? Which ones carry potential judicial and legal sanctions?

Alcohol is a depressant drug that decreases body processes such as breathing, heartbeat, and brain activity. Its consumption changes behavior and judgment beginning with the first drink; those changes are progressive. The impact of any number of drinks on behavior and judgment varies for each individual and depends on social and physical factors. Social factors include mood and setting. Physical factors include:

  • gender - women usually feel the effects of alcohol faster than a man of the same weight does)
  • body weight
  • type of drink
  • amount of food in the stomach
  • rate at which the alcohol enters the system - see for Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) information
  • prescription and over-the-counter medications affect alcohol metabolism

Health effects of alcohol include hangover, dehydration, impotence, liver and brain damage; overdose or mixing with other drugs can cause respiratory failure and death.

Whether you are over or under the legal drinking age, you cannot avoid making decisions about drinking - at parties, on dates, or in your room. The consequences of making poor decisions about drinking can increase your risk of academic failure, getting a sexually transmitted infection, and being involved in sexual or physical assaults. They can also increase your risk of developing a long-term drinking problem. Careless decisions about drinking - made at the last minute or when you have already begun drinking - usually have the worst consequences. But you can make good decisions - before you drink, that will protect you and those you care about. Begin with the facts and an honest assessment of your current drinking habits ... and be a helpful and responsible host to others.

Drug Information

Drugs may have both short-term and long-term health effects depending on many factors such as the type and quantity of drug, how often someone uses it, the physical and emotional health of the user and combinations of drugs and/or with alcohol. Even infrequent use of drugs can result in physical problems such as hangovers, digestive problems, heart damage, decreased sexual performance, and injuries due to lack of coordination and judgment. Other possible effects include impaired performance in class and at work, relationship conflicts and financial difficulties.

  • A Psychoactive drug is defined as a chemical or drug that has a specific effect on the mind. There are three basic categories of psychoactive drugs: stimulants, psychedelics, and depressants.
  • Stimulants - also called uppers - increase alertness, energy, physical activity and feelings of well being. Some examples are cocaine, amphetamines such as speed and crystal meth, nicotine, and caffeine.
  • Psychedelics - also called hallucinogens - can cause visual, auditory, and other sensory hallucinations. Examples are LSD (acid), peyote, and psilocybin.
  • "Club drugs" combine the properties of both stimulants and hallucinogens. The effect is a heightened sensitivity to sensory input without hallucinations or other major perceptual distortions. Examples are ecstasy, ketamine and GHB and are prevalent at "raves."
  • Depressants - also called downers - decrease body processes such as breathing, heartbeat, and brain activity. Examples are alcohol, barbiturates, rohypnol ("date rape drug"), tranquilizers, and inhalants.
  • Marijuana (pot) is a form of cannabis that is the most widely used illegal drug in America. When smoked, marijuana triggers a mild euphoria and a heightened sensitivity of bodily sensations, along with a variety of other perceptual distortions that are usually experienced as pleasant-but not always, and not by all users. Research shows that marijuana affects the balance of chemicals in the brain that control mood, energy, appetite, and concentration.
  • Psychoactive drugs are most frequently used for "recreational" purposes. Many produce tolerance and dependence (psychological, physical, or both). The more frequently a person uses a drug and/or the larger the dose, the greater his or her tolerance to the drug. This means that over time, larger quantities may be needed to produce the desired effect.

Although dependence is associated with tolerance, it is not the same thing. A person who is physically dependent on a drug needs it to function "normally". When the drug is discontinued, withdrawal symptoms occur that can be both painful and even life threatening. Taking the drug again relieves these withdrawal symptoms, but only temporarily.

A person who is psychologically dependent feels he or she cannot function "normally" without the drug. While there may be no physical illness associated with quitting, there can be severe mental and emotional distress that prompts the person to continue using the drug.