September 15, 2016
Federal regulations require that, as a condition of receiving funds or any other form of financial assistance under any federal program, an institution of higher education must certify that it has adopted and implemented a program to prevent the unlawful possession, use, or distribution of illicit drugs and alcohol by students and employees. This website lists university services, policies, and procedures for preserving a drug-free workplace and study environment.
A message from President C. L. Max Nikias
As members of the USC community, we all share a commitment to provide an educational environment in which excellent teaching, research, and learning can flourish. As part of this commitment, we recognize the need to counsel and educate members of our community concerning the dangers of abusing alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.
Academic life can be stressful at times. Students often feel the weight of the goal to succeed academically and to find their niche socially. Ambition and purpose in both of these areas are natural and important for college students. USC is a place where the drive for excellence is keen, and our faculty and staff as well can experience pressure—from the self-motivated desire to excel, the expectations of their colleagues and their families, as well as from competition with peers in the wider academic world. But this university categorically condemns the abuse of alcohol and drugs as a means to palliate stress. To help members of the USC community cope with various pressures, the university provides students, faculty, and staff with resources and activities that promote a drug-free campus.
All members of the USC community should read this webpage carefully. Whether you or someone you know is planning an event, is interested in getting involved with substance-abuse education and prevention programs, or is having problems that are related to the use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs, you will find this information helpful.
C. L. Max Nikias, President
USC Drug-Free is produced annually in compliance with the Drug-Free Schools and Campuses Act of 1989 and the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988.
Anyone receiving funding from federal sources should carefully read the section on “Special requirements for those working on or with federal contracts and grants.”
USC is committed to providing students and employees alike with a drug-free environment for both work and study. All members of the university community are encouraged to be actively involved in the prevention of alcohol and other drug abuse. A variety of educational, healthcare, and support resources are available, along with services on campus and referrals to appropriate off-campus services.
The illegal or abusive use of alcohol and/or other drugs by students, faculty or staff adversely affects USC’s commitment to provide an environment of excellence in teaching, research and learning. As members of the USC community, we all share in the responsibility for creating and maintaining a healthy and productive environment for work and study alike. With this responsibility comes the obligation to be involved in preventing problems caused by the abuse of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.
USC’s comprehensive approach to addressing substance abuse emphasizes:
- Taking effective steps to create and maintain a drug-free workplace and educational environment for students, faculty and staff.
- Providing continual prevention, education and access to both medical and behavioral healthcare services along with referrals to off-campus treatment facilities as appropriate.
- Encouraging individuals who are experiencing problems associated with alcohol and other drugs to seek assessment and treatment voluntarily with the understanding that this assistance is confidential and will not be used against them.
- Assessing university sanctions for the manufacture, distribution, use or possession of illegal drugs or the unlawful use or possession of alcohol which may include prosecution under applicable state and federal laws. Such sanctions may include educational intervention, mandated community service, suspension, expulsion and termination of employment.
Help is available for students, faculty and staff.
Help is confidential.
Alcohol and event planning guidelines
Where alcohol is to be served at a university function, the department or group hosting the event is responsible for ensuring that it is offered in a safe and legal manner.
- An individual or group sponsoring an event where alcoholic beverages are made available must adhere to applicable laws (e.g., securing a license to sell and/or serve) and university regulations. The sponsor will be held responsible for any abuses arising from the use of alcoholic beverages by servers and/or consumers.
- Ample non-alcoholic beverages and food must be provided at events where alcohol is served.
- Any individual or group intending to serve alcoholic beverages must register the event with the appropriate office or department and follow the rules set by that office or department. Questions about student events should be directed to the Office of Campus Activities at (213) 740-5693.
- Alcoholic beverages may not be present at any student organization event where nonmembers are present or during new member recruitment (e.g., “Rush”).
- University funds (including student programming fees, residence hall fees, departmental funds, etc.) may not be used to provide alcohol either directly or indirectly at student events.
Health risks associated with the abuse of alcohol and other drugs
There are many well-documented risks associated with the abuse of alcohol and other drugs, affecting not only the individual user but also his or her family, friends and roommates. Alcohol is frequently implicated in cases of sexual misconduct on campus, for example, and the misuse of drugs is sometimes a factor in workplace violence. Other problems associated with alcohol and other drugs include poor academic or job performance; relationship difficulties, including sexual dysfunction; a tendency to verbal and physical violence; financial stress; injuries or accidents; and violations of the law such as driving under the influence and willfully destroying property.
Members of the university community are encouraged to seek immediate help through any of the following resources.
USC resources for faculty and staff
Faculty and staff services are provided in conjunction with employee health benefits.
Center for Work and Family Life
No cost education, information, assessments, referrals and treatment for all faculty and staff (including hospital staff), and their dependent family members
USC Faculty/Staff Health Clinic in the Engemann Student Health Center (ESH 435)
Medical assessments and referrals to counseling and treatment
(800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273)
Faculty Mediation Officer
Anthem Blue Cross
For hospital employees represented by a collective bargaining unit
HMO (800) 227-3613
PPO (800) 759-3030
Kaiser (Member Service Call Center)
USC resources for students
Engemann Student Health Center – Office for Wellness and Health Promotion
Referrals, prevention and education programs, and classes (e.g., “BASICS” – Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students)
Engemann Student Health Center – Student Psychological Counseling Services
Individual and group counseling, substance abuse support groups, and referrals to treatment off campus
Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards
Policy and procedure questions, response to incidents involving violations of university policy
Office for Residential Education
Fraternity and Sorority Leadership Development
Office of Campus Activities
Relationship and Sexual Violance Prevention and Services
Alcohol/other drug related sexual assault support and response
Vice President for Student Affairs
Department of Public Safety
Safety and legal questions and concerns
UPC (213) 740-6000
HSC (323) 442-1200
UPC Emergency Number (213) 740-4321
HSC Emergency Number (323) 442-1000
Immediate response to on-call medical or psychological assistance
HSC/Eric Cohen Student Health Center
English (323) 936-4343
en Español (323) 750-2039
University Religious Center, Mondays at noon and Wednesdays at 6pm, URC 205
For more information about AA on campus, contact the Office of Religious Life at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about other AA-based recovery programs, contact The Haven at USC at (310) 822-1234.
Adult Children of Alcoholics
Family Anonymous Drug Abuse
National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependency
Alcohol and other drug descriptions
What is at-risk drinking?
While any alcohol use has the potential to contribute to problems (e.g., alcohol use impairs driving skills even when not legally drunk), studies show that certain “at-risk” drinking patterns are associated with an increased likelihood of problems. For men, at-risk drinking is drinking more than four standard doses (or drinks) of alcohol a day and/or more than 14 drinks per week. For women, the numbers are more than three drinks a day and/or more than seven drinks a week. (One drink is equal to 12 oz beer, 5 oz wine, or 1.5 oz liquor).
At-risk drinking can cause accidents, injuries, arguments, fights (both verbal and physical), legal problems (including DUI), relationship problems, and undesirable or even dangerous sex. Many health problems are also more likely, including sleep problems, hangovers, cancer, liver disease, stroke, depression, anxiety, and Alcohol Use Disorder.
At-risk drinking of alcohol is involved in the majority of violent acts on campuses, including sexual assault, vandalism, fights, and vehicular accidents.
Cannabis (marijuana, hashish)
Marijuana use can impair or distort short-term memory and comprehension, alter the user’s sense of time, and reduce coordination. A lowered immune system and an increased risk of lung cancer may also ensue. THC, the active chemical in marijuana, is stored in the fat cells of the body, and depending on the amount used and duration of time, can stay in the body for anything from a few days to about two months. Addiction is generally founded psychologically more than physically.
Cocaine (crack and other stimulants)
The immediate effects of cocaine use include dilated pupils, and increased blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration rate followed by a crash when the drug wears off. Over the longer term, cocaine users often have nasal passage and nasal septum problems. Stimulant use is generally addictive.
Hallucinogens (LSD, mescaline, psilocybin)
Hallucinogens cause illusions and distortions of time and perception. The user may experience episodes of panic, confusion, suspicion, anxiety and loss of control. Flashbacks can occur even after use has stopped. PCP or phencyclidine has been shown to produce violent behaviors which can lead to injuries to the user or a bystander. There is generally little potential for addiction.
Heroin (other opiates)
Heroin causes the body to experience diminished pain. If injected, it can result in blood vessel damage (and possibly the transmission of infections such as hepatitis and HlV if needles are shared). There is a high rate of addiction among users.
Tobacco (cigarettes, chew, and other products)
Tobacco use has been proven not only to be addictive, but to have serious, well-documented health consequences. While many people, particularly students, look to smoking as a way of reducing stress, it should be remembered that there is no comparison between the stress of facing emphysema or lung cancer and the stress of preparing for mid-terms.
For more information about preventing the abuse of these and other drugs, please contact Office for Wellness and Health Promotion at (213) 740-4777, located in the Engemann Student Health Center building, ESH 203.
University policy on alcohol and other drugs
The University of Southern California recognizes that the illegal or abusive use of alcohol and other drugs by members of the university community has a detrimental effect on the university’s commitment to provide continual excellence in teaching, research and education. Misuse of drugs by students poses hazards both to the individual involved and to the community. Students share with faculty and staff the responsibility for creating attitudes conducive to eliminating the abuse of alcohol and other drugs within the university community.
The university recognizes the legality of alcohol for those of legal age while simultaneously maintaining concerns for the potential for overconsumption of alcohol at any age. As a result, the university has established the following expectations concerning alcohol consumption and students:
- All new undergraduate students entering USC are required, prior to arriving on campus, to complete AlcoholEdu for College, a web-based, alcohol abuse prevention program. For faculty and staff interested in learning more, please visit the Office for Wellness and Health Promotion website or send an e-mail to email@example.com for further information.
- Only those students 21 years of age or older may possess or consume alcoholic beverages within the university community, and then in a responsible manner. Students are expected to assume responsibility for their own behavior while drinking and must understand that being under the influence of any amount of alcohol in no way lessens their accountability.
- Students will not provide alcoholic beverages to those under 21 years of age.
- University-recognized student living units and events sponsored by university-recognized groups (regardless of location) are governed by university policy concerning alcohol and other drugs. Individuals and groups are expected to follow appropriate hosting guidelines.
- Alcoholic beverages may not be present at any new member recruitment efforts (e.g., student organizations, information groups, departmental events). The use of university funds to provide alcohol to students is prohibited. Accordingly, student programming fees and departmental fees may not be used to purchase alcohol.
- Consumption of alcoholic beverages in public within the university community, such as academic and recreational facilities, university housing corridors and lounges, is prohibited unless licensed for consumption of alcohol on the premises. Approval to serve alcohol on the USC campus must be obtained from Hospitality Services.
- The intention to serve alcoholic beverages must be registered with the office or department administratively responsible for the facility or location where the event is to be held. Each office or department may have specific regulations which may prohibit the serving of alcoholic beverages. The Office for Campus Activities can provide additional information.
Violation of university policies concerning alcohol shall result in appropriate disciplinary action up to and including suspension or expulsion from the university and, in the case of organizations, loss of recognition.
Additionally, the university expects all students and student groups to comply with all current laws of the state of California and the city of Los Angeles. It is the responsibility of each individual to be aware of, and to abide by, all state and local ordinances and university regulations. Current laws provide for severe penalties for violations which may result in a criminal record. For a description of the current laws, please refer to State and municipal laws and ordinances in this brochure.
Violations may be prosecuted under applicable local, state and federal laws as well as through university disciplinary action.
Other psychoactive substances
The university’s policy is to conform to all applicable laws and follows the current stance of the medical and mental health professions regarding the use of other psychoactive substances including stimulants, depressants, narcotics, inhalants and hallucinogens including marijuana.
The university expects all students and student groups to comply with all local, state and federal laws. It is the responsibility of each individual to be aware of, and abide by, all federal, state and local ordinances and university regulations. Current laws provide for severe penalties for violations which may result in a criminal record.
Student involvement in the manufacture, use, possession, distribution or sale of such drugs is a matter of concern to the university and will subject a student so involved to disciplinary action by the university, up to and including suspension or expulsion from the university. University action may be taken whether or not independent action is taken by civil authorities.
Assistance for students
Any student concerned about his/her use of alcohol or other drugs is encouraged to seek help from someone s/he trusts or from a medical or psychological healthcare professional, and/or come to the Engemann Student Health Center to take “BASICS” (Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students).
Actions taken when a student has violated the alcohol and other drugs policy
As an academic community, USC exercises certain disciplinary and discretionary powers, protecting the educational environment by establishing and enforcing standards of conduct that students and student groups are expected to follow. These standards contain sanctions related to the use and abuse of alcohol and other drugs. Students are expected to respect these standards, the authority of the university, faculty and staff, and each other. If a student violates any of the standards of conduct, the university or any individual within the university may file a complaint against the student. Students who participate in the Overseas Studies Programs are subject to the laws of the host country as well as the university standards of conduct. Students in this program should discuss with program advisors the specifics related to the host country.
For details of the student conduct code, please contact the Office for Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards, or consult SCampus.
Student organizations are expected to follow the standards of conduct as is any individual student. If a determination that a violation of the alcohol and other drug policy has occurred, by either an individual or a student group, sanctions will be assessed. Such sanctions may include any of the following:
- Community service
- Social suspension
- Revocation of recognition as a student organization
- Educational sessions
- Expulsion from the university
- Social probation
- Denial of use of university facilities
- Disciplinary probation
- Suspension from the university
Actions taken when a faculty/staff member has violated the alcohol and other drugs policy
When problems arise due to alcohol and other drug use and abuse, it is the university’s goal to provide faculty and staff members, whenever possible, with options for assessment, recommendations, counseling, referrals and/or treatment. In the event that a faculty or staff member is found to be in violation of the university policy, in addition to federal, state and municipal legal action and penalties, the individual may be subject to university disciplinary sanctions up to and including dismissal. Thus, self-referral and early detection and referral is critical to the rehabilitation of employees. For details, please refer to the Faculty Handbook.
State and municipal laws and ordinances
The following provisions of the state and municipal law serve as the foundation for USC’s policy on alcohol. (Note: This list is not a complete summary of relevant laws and ordinances.)
- The purchase, possession, or consumption of alcoholic beverages (including beer and wine) by any person under the age of 21 is prohibited.
- The selling, either directly or indirectly, of alcoholic beverages (including beer and wine) except under the authority of a California Alcoholic Beverage Control Board license is prohibited. This includes selling glasses, mixes, ice, tickets for admission, etc.
- The serving of alcohol to an intoxicated person is prohibited.
- The serving of alcohol to someone to the point of intoxication is prohibited.
- The manufacture, use or provision of a false state identification card, driver’s license, or certification of birth or baptism is prohibited.
- The act(s) of being drunk and disorderly in public view, including on public sidewalks and walkways, is prohibited.
- The consumption of alcoholic beverages in a public place (unless licensed for consumption of alcohol on the premises) is prohibited. This includes a prohibition of alcoholic beverages in public areas of academic facilities, recreation fields, university housing corridors and lounges.
- The act of driving a motor vehicle or a bicycle while under the influence of alcohol is prohibited.
- The possession of an alcoholic beverage in an open container in a motor vehicle or on a bicycle is prohibited regardless of who is driving or whether one is intoxicated.
State and federal criminal sanctions
The following is a brief summary of the state and federal criminal sanctions that may be imposed upon someone who violates the alcohol and other drug policy at USC or elsewhere in the state of California.
- A violation of California law for the unlawful sale of alcohol may include imprisonment in the county jail for six months, plus fines and penalties.
- A violation of California law for the use of alcohol by obviously intoxicated individuals will vary with the particular circumstances but may include imprisonment in the county jail and substantial fines and penalties. Additionally, minors who are arrested for violations concerning the use of alcohol run the risk of having their driving privileges suspended or revoked until they are 18.
- A violation of California law for the possession, use and/or sale of narcotics, marijuana and/or other illicit drugs includes imprisonment in the county jail or state prison for one to nine years, plus fines up to $100,000 for each count.
- A violation of federal law for the possession, use and/or sale of narcotics, marijuana and/or other illicit drugs may include imprisonment in the federal penitentiary for one to fifteen years plus substantial financial penalties.
- A violation of the law involving an individual being under the influence of a combination of alcohol and other drugs (itself potentially deadly), may result in an increase in criminal sanctions and penalties.
In addition to the sanctions imposed by the university, individuals who have violated State and Federal law regarding possession, use, and/or distribution of alcohol and other drugs may be referred by the university to the appropriate authorities for arrest and prosecution.
USC, an institution of higher education, complies with the Drug-Free Schools and Campuses Regulations of 1989 and the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 which state that “as a condition of receiving funds or any other form of financial assistance under any federal program, an institution of higher education must certify that it has adopted and implemented a program to prevent the unlawful possession, use or distribution of illicit drugs and alcohol by students and employees.” This summary of services, policies and procedures is mailed to each member of the USC community in accordance with this regulation.
In order to provide a safe and healthy environment for all of our faculty, staff and students, the university maintains a smoke-free policy. Questions regarding the smoke-free policy should be directed to Risk Management at (213) 740-6204.
Special requirements for those working on or with federal contracts and grants
The Federal Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 (Public Law 100-690, Title V, Subtitle D) and the State Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1990 require that university employees directly engaged in the performance of work on a federal or state contract or grant shall abide by this policy as a condition of employment.
USC’s Department of Contracts and Grants must be notified within five calendar days if an employee working on a contract or grant supported by federal funds is convicted of any criminal drug statute violation occurring in the workplace or while on university business. The university is required to notify the federal contracting or granting agency within ten calendar days of receiving notice of such conviction and to take appropriate corrective action or to require the employee to participate satisfactorily in available counseling, treatment and approved substance abuse assistance or rehabilitation programs within thirty calendar days of having received notice of such conviction.
Office of Compliance
University of Southern California