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Health Risks

Please see below, the descriptions of the health risks associated with the use of illicit drugs and the abuse of alcohol.

Illicit Drugs

The use and overdose of illicit drugs, and withdrawal, can lead to physical and psychological dependence, behavioral changes, physical and psychological damage, and possible death.

Possible effects from the use of illegal narcotics include euphoria, drowsiness, respiratory depression, constricted pupils, and nausea. Narcotic overdoses can produce slow and shallow breathing, clammy skin, convulsions, coma, and possible death. Withdrawal symptoms can include tremors, panic, cramps, nausea, chills, and sweating. Mothers who use drugs during pregnancy may give birth to infants with physical abnormalities and mental retardation.

The unlawful use of depressants can cause slurred speech, disorientation, and drunken behavior. Overdoses can produce weak and rapid pulse, coma, and possible death. Withdrawal syndrome can include tremors, delirium, convulsions, and possible death.

Illicit use of stimulants can cause increased alertness, excitation, euphoria, increased pulse rate and blood pressure, insomnia, and loss of appetite. Agitation, increase in body temperature, hallucinations, convulsions, and possible death are the effects of stimulant overdose. Withdrawal syndrome can include apathy, long periods of sleep, irritability, depression, and disorientation.

Possible effects of the use of hallucinogens include illusions and hallucinations and altered perceptions of time and distance. Overdoses can produce longer, more intense effects, psychosis, and possible death.

The use of marijuana can produce euphoria, relaxed inhibitions, increased appetite, and disoriented behaviors. Overdoses can result in fatigue, paranoia, and possible psychosis. Cannabis withdrawal can occasionally produce insomnia, hyperactivity, and decreased appetite. (For further information, contact Student Affairs or the appropriate Personnel Office.)


Alcohol consumption causes a number of marked changes in behavior. Even low doses significantly impair the judgment and coordination required to drive a car safely, increasing the likelihood that the driver will be involved in an accident. Low to moderate doses of alcohol also increase the incidence of a variety of aggressive acts, including spouse and child abuse. 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.

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 consumption 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 liver.

Mothers who drink alcohol during pregnancy may give birth to infants with fetal alcohol syndrome. These infants have irreversible physical abnormalities and mental retardation. In addition, research indicates that children of alcoholic parents are at a greater risk than other youngsters of becoming alcoholics.