The Health Risks Associated with the Use of Illegal Drugs and Alcohol

Student use of cannabis, LSD, amphetamines, sedatives, tranquilizers, stimulants, synthetic drugs, or other drugs or controlled substances (as defined by law) is a matter of concern to this educational institution. The University is also concerned about student abuse of alcohol, prescription medications, and inhalants.

Succeeding at the University requires a balanced, healthy lifestyle. Misuse of alcohol and the use of other drugs can interfere with or prolong a student’s academic career as well as cause legal, social, financial, and health problems. Alcohol and other drug-related accidents are a leading cause of death of people age 18-24 years old. As an educational institution, the University endeavors to protect and assist students by providing reliable information about the hazards of illegal drugs and alcohol. For more information on institutional efforts to decrease high-risk alcohol use among students, refer to the UI’s Alcohol Harm Reduction Plan.

Health risks include, but are not limited to, adverse modification of one or more body systems, such as the nervous, cardiovascular, respiratory, muscular, endocrine, and central nervous systems; toxic, allergic, or other serious reaction; unfavorable mood alteration, and addiction. Physiological and psychological dependency, which manifests itself in a preoccupation with acquiring and using one or more drugs, may cause severe emotional and physical injury.

Alcohol use causes a number of marked changes in behavior. Even small amounts significantly impair the judgment and coordination required to drive a car safely, increasing the likelihood that the driver will be involved in an accident or face criminal consequences. Moderate to high doses of alcohol cause marked impairments in higher mental functions, severely altering a person’s ability to learn and remember information. Very high doses cause respiratory depression and death. If combined with other depressants of the central nervous system, much lower doses of alcohol will produce the effects just described.

Common side-effects of alcohol use include digestive complaints, sleep problems and adverse affects on a student’s academic performance. Because alcohol may increase aggression, excessive use may lead to fighting, vandalism, criminal mischief, and verbal abuse. Alcohol use often plays a role in sexual violence. University of Iowa students who use excessive amounts of alcohol have reported suffering from hangovers, missing class and/or work, and engaging in high-risk sexual behavior.

Repeated use of alcohol can lead to dependence. Sudden cessation of alcohol intake is likely to produce withdrawal symptoms, including severe anxiety, tremors, hallucinations, and convulsions. Alcohol withdrawal can be life-threatening. Long-term use of large quantities of alcohol, particularly when combined with poor nutrition, can also lead to permanent damage to vital organs such as the brain and the liver.

The health risks associated with specific narcotics, depressants, stimulants, hallucinogens, and cannabis are explained in Table A.

Alcohol and Other Drug Education Services Available to Students

The University of Iowa offers a range of services for persons who want to learn more about alcohol and other drugs, are concerned about their own or someone else’s substance abuse, or are recovering from substance abuse problems. More specific information about drugs and drug abuse is available through Student Wellness and the University Counseling Service. Any discussions between individuals and the professional staffs in these offices are treated as confidential information.

To assist students whose substance-related behavior may be causing legal, academic, psychological, physical, or social problems, or jeopardizing their student status, the University maintains Alcohol and Drug Support, a component of Student Wellness. Services include substance abuse assessment and referral, outreach, education, and BASICS counseling. Students with concerns or questions are encouraged to contact Student Wellness at 319-335-8394 and talk with a counselor or Behavioral Health Consultant.

Alcoholic Beverages

Alcoholic beverages may not be consumed, possessed, distributed, or sold on campus without specific authorization. Student use of alcoholic beverages is prohibited on campus except as follows:

Students who are 21 years of age may purchase and consume alcoholic beverages in the Iowa Memorial Union or within other restricted areas of campus described in the Alcohol Beverage Service Guidelines in the University of Iowa Operations Manual V.26.

A college or department may serve alcoholic beverages on campus only in accordance with the Alcohol Beverage Service Guidelines and with the permission of the Office of the Vice President for Student Life (“Office of the Vice President”).

Alcoholic beverages may not be purchased or served at events sponsored by a registered student organization or student government body, except in accordance with the Alcohol Beverage Service Guidelines, or with special permission from the Office of the Vice President. The scope of the prohibition includes student organization events which take place off campus as well as on-campus events. Alcoholic beverages cannot be purchased with mandatory student fees or with registered student organization funds.

For purposes of this policy, any event held on property owned or controlled by a registered student organization is considered to be an event sponsored by the organization. Registered student organizations which own, lease, or otherwise control private property are responsible for ensuring that federal, state and local laws are observed at all times on their property. A fraternity or sorority chapter-sponsored event held at a third-party venue with a liquor license must conform to any rules established by the relevant governing body (Interfraternity Council, Multicultural Greek Council, National Pan-Hellenic Council, or Panhellenic Council).

Illegal Drugs other than Alcohol

Students may not consume, possess, distribute, or sell illegal drugs on campus. The list of prohibited activity includes but is not limited to medications legally prescribed to one individual which are consumed by another individual without explicit permission from the health care provider who prescribed the medication. The unauthorized use of prescription drugs -- consuming, possessing, distributing, or selling – is prohibited. University policy also prohibits possession of drug paraphernalia.

In University Housing, restrictions on alcohol and illegal drug use, possession, sale and distribution are set forth in the Code of Student Life. Sanctions for violations which occur outside of University Housing are set forth below.

Disciplinary Action

The University will not tolerate the use of drugs that are illegal or consumed in an illegal manner. Students are expected to abide by the laws concerning controlled substances and alcoholic beverages. Students in violation of state or federal laws may face criminal prosecution, and the University will discipline students who possess or consume illegal drugs or alcohol on campus, off campus in violation of the law, or as a part of any other unauthorized University activity. (see Accountability Procedure.)

Sanctions which may be imposed for possession or use of alcohol and other drugs in violation of the Code of Student Life include a disciplinary reprimand, disciplinary probation, mandatory substance abuse evaluation, suspension, or expulsion. Registered student organizations which fail to comply with University regulations governing alcohol and other drugs may be disciplined by the Director of Student Accountability or by an appropriate governing body. The Director of Student Accountability may suspend an organization’s University recognition.

Illegal drug trafficking, including the sale, manufacture, distribution, or administration of illegal drugs, is viewed as a clear and present danger to the University community. Any student found to have sold, manufactured, distributed, or administered illegal drugs may be suspended or expelled. Students who violate the rights of others while under the influence of alcohol or drugs face serious disciplinary action up to and including suspension or expulsion.

Students found to have violated this policy or who harm themselves or others while under the influence of illegal drugs or alcohol will be required to undergo a substance abuse evaluation and attend all education or treatment programs recommended as a result of the evaluation in order to re-enroll. The University may require a student recommended for inpatient treatment to enter a treatment program immediately in lieu of attending classes until the treatment is completed.

Reporting Alcohol or Drug Violations

Reports of illegal drug or alcohol use on campus should be directed to the Department of Public Safety. Violations that occur off campus typically are investigated by the law enforcement agency in the jurisdiction in which the alleged illegal activity occurred. In the residence halls, residence hall staff members will investigate reports of drug or alcohol use and may report to the Department of Public Safety. The Department of Public Safety, the Office of Student Accountability, and University Housing publish a summary of alcohol- and drug-related complaints in their periodic reports.

Applicable Legal Sanctions for Illegal Drugs

Both state and federal laws prohibit distribution of, manufacture of, or possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance or a counterfeit controlled substance. State penalties range from 6 months to life confinement and a fine of $430 to $1,000,000 depending upon the type and quantity of drug involved. Conviction may also result in the loss of state and federal benefits, such as grants, school loans, or work assistance, during the time periods required by federal law. Specific drugs, amounts, and penalties are described in Iowa Code § 124 and summarized in Table C.

Maximum federal penalties range from 1-year confinement to life imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 to $4,000,000, depending upon the type and quantity of drug involved. Specific drugs, amounts, and penalties are described in Table B. State and federal legal sanctions are subject to change by the General Assembly and Congress, respectively.

Illegal Drug Penalty Enhancement

The maximum term and fine increase significantly if state or federal penalty enhancement rules apply. Factors which raise maximum penalties under Federal penalty enhancement rules include death or serious bodily injury; prior drug conviction; placing at risk or distributing a drug to a person under 21 years old; using a person under 18 years of age to assist in the drug violation; and distributing or manufacturing a drug within 1,000 feet of school property, including the University of Iowa campus. Penalty enhancement rules apply to defendants age 18 years or older. Factors which raise maximum penalties under state penalty enhancement rules include using firearms or dangerous weapons in the commission of the offense; distributing or possessing with intent to distribute within 1,000 feet of school, public pool, or recreation center.

Possession of Illegal Drugs

Both state and federal laws prohibit possession of a controlled substance. The maximum state and federal penalty for possession is confinement for 1 year and a fine of $1,500. The maximum term and fine increase significantly in the event that state or federal penalty enhancement rules apply. A person in possession of a small amount of a controlled substance for personal use may be assessed a civil fine up to $10,000 in addition to any criminal fine. Under state law, repeat offenders may face fines up to $10,245 and confinement up to five years.

Driving While Intoxicated

Under state law, a person found guilty of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or of having an alcohol concentration of .08% or higher, or of having any amount of a controlled substance in the person's blood or urine, shall be imprisoned for not less than 48 hours and fined not less than $1,250 for the first offense. For the second OWI offense the minimum period of confinement is 7 days and a fine of not less than $1,875 and up to $6,250. The minimum period of confinement for the third or subsequent OWI conviction is 30 days, and could be up to 5 years, with a fine of not less than $3,125 and up to $9,375.

If a person under 21 years of age is operating a motor vehicle with an alcohol concentration of .02% or greater, the person's driver's license will be revoked for at least 60 days, even if the person is not legally intoxicated. If a person is operating while intoxicated, the person's driver's license will be revoked for at least 180 days.

Alcohol-Related Offenses

The drinking age in Iowa is 21. State law prohibits:

  1. Purchase, attempt to purchase, possession, or use of alcohol under the drinking age;
  2. Giving or selling alcohol to a person under the drinking age;
  3. Driving a motor vehicle with an open container of alcohol in the passenger compartment;
  4. Giving or selling alcohol to an intoxicated person; and
  5. Public intoxication.

The City of Iowa City prohibits:

  1. The use of alcoholic beverages in a public place;
  2. Possession of an unsealed receptacle containing an alcoholic beverage in a public place.

Each of these offenses is a simple misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of $65 to $625 and a jail sentence of up to 30 days. For certain offenses, State law provides for mandatory fines and suspension of drivers licenses. For example, the mandatory fine for under-age possession of alcohol is $260 for a first offense and $500 for a second offense. A person over the legal age who gives, sells, or furnishes an alcoholic beverage to a person under the legal age commits a serious misdemeanor and is subject to a fine of between $500 and $2,560 and in addition may be sentenced to jail for up to 1 year. If injury results from the furnishing of alcohol, an aggravated misdemeanor is committed and the guilty person is subject to a fine of between $855 and $8,5400 and in addition may be sentenced up to 2 years in prison. If death results from the furnishing of alcohol, a class D felony is committed and a guilty person may be sentenced to a prison term not to exceed 5 years and be subject to a fine between $1,025 and $10,245.