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Alcohol and other drug abuse have the
potential to seriously compromise an
individual's ability to perform in the college
environment. Research has shown a
correlation between low GPAs and high
alcohol and/or drug use. Students who choose
to abuse alcohol or other drugs increase their
risk for immediate negative consequences
(e.g., accidents resulting from impaired
driving, sexual assault, violence, University
or legal sanctions, alcohol poisoning, or other
drug overdose) as well as increasing their risk
Gallaudet University is committed to
providing information about alcohol and
other drugs, supporting those students who
make positive choices, and encouraging a
dialogue with all students so that we can
move the community further toward our goal
of eliminating the abuse of alcohol and use of
illicit drugs. If students have any questions
concerning the health or psychological risks
associated with the use of illicit drugs and the
abuse of alcohol, students can contact the
Health and Wellness Programs or seek help
from the other resources listed below. The
following is a brief description of several
drugs and their associated health risks.
low levels of blood alcohol. When alcohol is
abused, there is a significantly increased
incidence of physical injury, motor vehicle
accidents (nearly half of all fatal accidents)
and injuries from assaults. Chronic heavy
alcohol use is associated with increased risk
of cancer of the esophagus, stomach,
pancreas, liver and heart and is the most
common cause of liver failure. Particularly
among college students, high-risk drinking
(loosely defined as getting "drunk" or binge
use) is associated with an increased risk of
sexual assault, alcohol poisoning, and poor
academic performance. Someone who has
passed out after drinking requires
immediate medical attention. Students who
are with someone who cannot be woken up
after drinking should put the person on his
or her side and alert DPS (on-campus) or
call 911 (off-campus) immediately.
Cannabinoids include marijuana and
hashish. Marijuana is the most widely used
illicit drug in the United States and tends to
be the first illegal drug young people use.
Marijuana blocks the messages going to your
brain and alters perceptions and emotions,
vision, and coordination. The short-term
effects of using marijuana include sleepiness,
difficulty keeping track of time, impaired or
reduced short-term memory, reduced ability
to perform tasks requiring concentration and
coordination, such as driving a car, increased
heart rate, potential cardiac dangers for those
with preexisting heart disease, bloodshot
eyes, dry mouth and throat, decreased social
inhibitions, and sometimes paranoia and
Health Effects. Although moderate alcohol
use can be a healthy life-style choice for
many, alcohol is America’s most abused
drug. Alcohol is a central nervous system
depressant, which can cause a person to do
things one would not normally do if sober,
which decreases motor coordination and
control. This impairment can occur even at
Long-term effects of chronic heavy
marijuana use include enhanced lung cancer
risk, decreased testosterone levels for men
and lower sperm counts and difficulty having
children, increased testosterone levels for
women and increased risk of infertility,
diminished or extinguished sexual pleasure,
and psychological dependence requiring
more of the drug to get the same effect.
Hashish is a more concentrated form of
marijuana and has similar short- and longterm effects.
Opioids include heroin and opium and are
highly addictive drugs. Users find that they
have a need for persistent, repeated use of the
drug (known as craving) and that their
attempts to stop using the drug lead to
significant and painful physical withdrawal
symptoms. Use of heroin and opium causes
physical and psychological problems such as
shallow breathing, nausea, panic, insomnia,
and a need for increasingly higher doses of
the drug to get the same effect. Uncertain
dosage levels (due to differences in purity),
the use of unsterile equipment, contamination
of heroin/opium with dotting agents, or the
use of heroin/opium in combination with
such other drugs as alcohol or cocaine can
cause serious health problems such as serum
hepatitis, skin abscesses, inflammation of the
veins, and cardiac disease. Of great
importance, however, is that the user never
knows whether the next dose will be
unusually potent, leading to overdose, coma,
and possible death. In addition, needle
sharing by injection drug users is one of the
leading cause of new HIV cases.
Stimulants include cocaine, amphetamine,
and methamphetamine.
Cocaine - Cocaine tends to give a temporary
illusion of limitless power and energy that
leave the user feeling depressed, edgy, and
craving more. Crack is a smokable form of
cocaine that has been chemically altered.
Cocaine and crack are highly addictive. This
addiction can erode physical and mental
health and can become so strong that these
drugs dominate all aspects of an addict's life.
Physical risks associated with using any
amount of cocaine and crack include
increases in blood pressure, heart rate,
breathing rate, and body temperature, nasal
damage from snorting, heart attacks, strokes,
and respiratory failure, hepatitis or HIV
through shared needles, brain seizures, and
reduction of the body's ability to resist and
combat infection.
Psychological risks
include violent, erratic, or paranoid behavior,
hallucinations and "coke bugs" - a sensation
of imaginary insects crawling over the skin,
confusion, anxiety and depression, loss of
interest in food or sex, and "cocaine
psychosis" - losing touch with reality, loss of
interest in friends, family, sports, hobbies,
and other activities. Cocaine and crack use
has also been a contributing factor in a
number of drowning, car crashes, falls, burns,
and suicides. Cocaine and crack addicts often
become unable to function sexually. Even
first time users may experience seizures or
heart attacks, which can be fatal.
Methamphetamine - Methamphetamine is a
stimulant drug chemically related to
amphetamine but with stronger effects on the
central nervous system. Street names for the
drug includes "speed," "meth," and "crank."
Methamphetamine is used in pill form or in
powdered form by snorting or injecting.
Crystallized methamphetamine known as
"ice," "crystal," or "glass," is a smokable and
more powerful form of the drug.
The effects of methamphetamine use include
increased heart rate and blood pressure,
wakefulness, insomnia, increased physical
activity, decreased appetite, respiratory
problems, extreme anorexia, hyperthermia,
convulsions, and cardiovascular problems,
which can lead to death, euphoria, irritability,
confusion, tremors, anxiety, paranoia, or
violent behavior, and can cause irreversible
damage to blood vessels in the brain,
producing strokes. Methamphetamine users
who inject the drug and share needles are
also at risk for acquiring HIV.
Club Drugs
Club drugs include MDMA (Ecstasy),
MDMA/Ecstasy – MDMA is most
commonly known as ecstasy or ‘X’, and also
known as mollies, yellow jackets, and other
street names. MDMA causes mild
hallucinogens, increases touch sensitivity,
enhances feelings, lowers inhibitions, and
also causes anxiety, chills, sweating, teeth
disturbances, depression, impaired memory,
hyperthermia (body overheating), and
addiction. MDMA may contain a variety of
substances that can cause an unpredictable
impact and the side effects to be more
serious. When used in combination with
marijuana and/or alcohol, there is a higher
rise for negative effects. It is often associated
with raves and thus is considered a “club
Rohypnol - Rohypnol is commonly known
as the "date rape" drug. It is also known as
roofies, roach, and rope. People may
unknowingly be given the drug which, when
mixed with alcohol, can incapacitate a victim
and prevent them from resisting sexual
assault. Also, Rohypnol may be lethal when
mixed with alcohol and/or other depressants.
Rohypnol produces sedative-hypnotic effects
including muscle relaxation, confusion,
coordination, and in some cases, withdrawal
seizures; it can also produce physical and
psychological dependence.
GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate) – GHB is
also known as liquid ecstasy, somatomax,
scoop, or grievous bodily harm. It has been
abused in the U.S. for euphoric, sedative, and
anabolic (bodybuilding) effects. It also
causes drowsiness, nausea, headaches,
disorientation, loss of coordination, memory
loss, and unconsciousness. Combining use
with other drugs such as alcohol can result in
nausea and difficulty breathing. Coma and
seizures can occur following abuse of GHB
and, when combined with methamphetamine,
there appears to be an increased risk of
seizure. GHB may also produce withdrawal
effects, inclusing insomnia, anxiety, tremors,
and sweating. As with Rohypnol and
Clonazepam, GHB has been associated with
sexual assault nationwide.
Dissociative Drugs
Dissociative drugs include ketamine, PCP,
salvia divinorum, and dextromethorphan
(DXM). These drugs can cause feelings of
being separate from the body, impaired body
function, anxiety, tremors, numbness,
memory loss, and nausea.
Ketamine – Ketamine is also known as
ketalar, cat valium, special K, and vitamin K.
It can numb pain, cause memory loss,
confusion, difficulty breathing, and death.
PCP – PCP is also known as angel dust,
boat, hog, love boat, and peace pill. It can
also cause the numbing of pain, psychosis,
aggression, violence, slurred speech, loss of
coordination, and hallucinations.
Salvia divinorum - Salvia divinorum, also
known as salvia, diviner’s sage, ska maria
pastora, and seer’s sage, causes hallucinogens
and psychedelic changes. It is thought to
possibly cause depression and negatively
affect learning and memory. Long-term
effects of salvia have not been researched
Dextromethorphan (DXM) – DXM is found
in some cough and cold medications. It can
cause euphoria, slurred speech, confusion,
dizziness, and distorted visual images.
Hallucinogenic drugs are substances that
distort the perception of objective reality. The
most well-known hallucinogens include
lysergic acid diethylamide, commonly known
as LSD or acid; mescaline and peyote; and
psilocybin, or "magic" mushrooms. These
drugs can produce unpredictable, erratic, and
violent behavior in users that sometimes
leads to serious injuries and death. The effect
of hallucinogens can last for 12 hours.
LSD produces tolerance, so that users who
take the drug repeatedly must take higher and
higher doses in order to achieve the same
state of intoxication. This is extremely
dangerous, given the unpredictability of the
drug, and can result in increased risk of
convulsions, coma, heart and lung failure,
and even death.
Physical risks associated with using
hallucinogens include increased heart rate
and blood pressure, sleeplessness and
tremors, lack of muscular coordination,
sparse, mangled, and incoherent speech,
decreased awareness of touch and pain that
can result in self-inflicted injuries,
convulsions, coma, and heart and lung
failure. Psychological risks associated with
using hallucinogens include a sense of
distance and estrangement, depression,
anxiety, and paranoia, violent behavior,
confusion, suspicion, and loss of control,
flashbacks, behavior similar to schizophrenic
psychosis, and catatonic syndrome whereby
the user becomes mute, lethargic, disoriented,
A lesser known hallucinogen is “bath salts”
which contains methylenedioxypyrovalerone
(MPDV), mephedrone, and pyrovalerone, but
the exact chemical compounds are unknown,
making it more dangerous. Bath salts can
cause chest pains, increased blood pressure
and heart rate, agitation, hallucinations,
paranoia, aggression, violence, and delusions.
Side effects can also include intense cravings,
which increase abuse and addicition.
Other Compounds
Other compounds include, but are not limited
to, anabolic steroids, inhalants,
prescription drugs, and tobacco.
Anabolic Steroids – Anabolic steroids are
synthetic compounds available legally and
illegally and which are closely related to the
male sex hormone, testosterone. Possible
effects of steroid use include increase in body
weight, increase in muscle strength, enhanced
athletic performance, and increased physical
endurance. Abuse of steroids may cause
severe acne, rashes, stunted growth, sexual
function problems; women take on masculine
traits and develop hairiness, behavioral
changes, and aggressiveness ("roid rage").
Long-term effects may include elevated
cholesterol, heart disease, liver tumors,
cancer, cataracts, and death. Sharing needles
to inject steroids are also at risk for acquiring
Inhalants - Inhalant use refers to the
intentional breathing of gas or vapors with
the purpose of reaching a high. Nearly all
abused products produce effects similar to
anesthetics, which slow down the body's
function. Varying upon level of dosage, the
user can experience slight stimulation,
feeling of less inhibition or loss of
consciousness. The user can also suffer from
Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome. This
means the user can die the first, 10th, or
100th time he or she uses an inhalant. Other
effects include damage to the heart, kidney,
brain, liver, bone marrow and other organs.
Results similar to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
may also occur when inhalants are used
during pregnancy. Inhalants are physically
and psychologically addicting and users
suffer withdrawal symptoms.
Prescription Drugs - These drugs are not
illicit if they are used in accordance with the
prescription. However, sharing prescription
medication with someone else or using the
prescription in a way other than prescribed is
illegal and could be very harmful. The
dosage for each prescription medicine is
based on a number of personal factors
(gender, age, weight, other medications, etc.)
that a doctor needs to assess and supervise.
Some prescriptions can be addictive.
Tobacco – Nicotine is found in cigarettes,
cigars, bidis, and smokeless tobacco. All
forms of nicotine are highly addictive - for
some people, it is as addictive as heroin or
cocaine. Cigarette smoking is the leading
cause of preventable death in the United
States, contributing to lung and other cancers,
heart disease, stroke, and a variety of other
diseases. Individuals consistently exposed to
second-hand smoke (those who work or live
around smokers) are also at an increased risk
for cancer and other heart and lung disorders.
Smokeless tobacco (snuff or chew) is
associated with a greatly increased risk for
cancer. Using smokeless tobacco can be as
harmful as smoking. Like smoking, dipping
and chewing tobacco have serious health
effects, including oral cancer, gum problems,
loss of teeth, and heart problems.
Quitting smoking or smokeless tobacco is
difficult. Usually people make two to three
tries, or more, before finally being able to
quit. Studies have shown that each time you
try to quit, you will be stronger and will have
learned more about what helps and what
hurts. Those interested in quitting smoking or
stopping use of smokeless tobacco can be
treated by counseling and behavior
modification sessions, help in handling
difficult situations, and/or using the nicotine
patch or nicotine gum. Smoking cessation
classes are also offered through the Health
and Wellness Programs.