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Dean of Student Affairs: Travis Imel
Contact: Jennifer Little
Ely Center 102(202) 250-2385 (videophone)(202) 651-5064 (voice)(202) 651-5572 (fax)
Alcohol and other drug abuse have the potential to seriously compromise an
individual's ability to perform in the college environment. In addition,
all substances have side effects that users may enjoy or find pleasure
encouraging their use. As an academic institution, we are concerned about
the use of these substances as they can have negative effects that can
impair students' ability to function and thrive in this university
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 for longer-term consequences (e.g.,
psychological dependence, physical addiction, and associated health
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 promote community
wide and individual health. 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 other resources listed below. The following is a brief
description of several drugs and their associated health risks.
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 when a person has drunk only a little or has a low blood
alcohol content/concentration (BAC). Binge drinking is when a person drinks
to the point of raising their BAC to .08 or higher. For biological males,
this is about five drinks or more and for biological females, four or more
drinks. When alcohol is overused, 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 several cancers, damage to the 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. Alcohol is considered the number
one date rape drug.
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
their side and alert DPS (on-campus) or call 911 (off-campus)
. Signs of alcohol poisoning include: vomiting, unresponsive or will not
wake up, slow breathing, pale or bluish skin, and confusion.
Cannabis includes marijuana, hashish, and other
concentrates such as glass and wax. Cannabis is currently legal for medical
and/or recreational use in some states but is not federally legal. Any
institution that receives federal funds, is mandated to prohibit cannabis.
The chemicals in cannabis (cannabinoids) block the messages going to your
brain and alter perceptions and emotions, vision, and coordination. Side
effects of using cannabis include increased hunger and 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, which increases potential
cardiac dangers for those with preexisting heart disease; bloodshot eyes;
dry mouth and throat; social awkwardness or decreased social inhibitions;
and sometimes paranoia and hallucinations.
Long-term impacts of chronic heavy cannabis use include: problems with
lungs or coughing, memory loss, decreased sperm counts, disrupted menstrual
cycles, increased risk of infertility, diminished or extinguished sexual
pleasure, and addiction. Cannabis can also negatively impact a developing
fetus of a pregnant woman.
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. The 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 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 or contaminated, leading to overdose, coma, and possible
death. In addition, needle sharing by injection drug users is one of the
leading causes of new HIV cases.
Stimulants include cocaine, amphetamine,
- Cocaine tends to give a temporary illusion of limitless power and energy
that leaves 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
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 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, severe dental problems, increased wakefulness, insomnia,
increased physical activity, decreased appetite, respiratory problems,
anorexia, hyperthermia, convulsions, skin problems and cardiovascular
problems. These side effects can lead to euphoria, irritability, confusion,
tremors, anxiety, paranoia, violent behavior, strokes and death.
Methamphetamine users who inject the drug and share needles are also at
risk for acquiring hepatitis and HIV.
Club drugs include MDMA (Ecstasy), Rohypnol, and GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate)
- 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 clenching, muscle cramping,
sleep disturbances, depression, impaired memory, hyperthermia (body
overheating), and addiction. MDMA may contain a variety of substances that
can cause an unpredictable impact and serious side effects. . 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 drug."
- 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, memory loss, dizziness,
impaired coordination, and in some cases, withdrawal seizures; it can also
produce physical and psychological dependence.
- 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, including
insomnia, anxiety, tremors, and sweating. As with Rohypnol and Clonazepam,
GHB has been associated with sexual assault nationwide.
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 is also known as ketalar, cat valium, special K, and vitamin K.
It can numb pain, cause memory loss, confusion, difficulty breathing, and
- 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, 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
- 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 around 12 hours, depending
on the dose.
LSD produces tolerance, so that users who take the drug repeatedly must
take higher doses in order to achieve the same state of intoxication. This
can be dangerous, given the unpredictability of the drug, and can result in
increased risk of convulsions, coma, heart and lung failure, and even
Physical risks associated with using hallucinogens include: increased heart
rate and blood pressure, sleeplessness and tremors, lack of muscular
coordination; 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, a behavior similar to schizophrenic psychosis, and catatonic
syndrome whereby the user becomes mute, lethargic, disoriented, and makes
meaningless repetitive movements.
A lesser known hallucinogen is "bath salts" which are synthetic
cathinones. Bath salts can cause agitation, hallucinations, paranoia,
increased sex drive, aggression, violence, delusions, chest pains,
increased blood pressure and heart rate. Side effects can also include
intense cravings, which increase abuse and addiction. When injected, it
also increases the risk for hepatitis and HIV.
Other compounds include, but are not limited to,anabolic steroids, inhalants, prescription drugs, and tobacco.
- 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 an 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 hepatitis and HIV.
- 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 they use 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 can suffer withdrawal symptoms.
- These drugs are not illegal if they are used the way they are prescribed.
However, sharing prescription medication with someone else or using the
prescription in a way other than prescribed is illegal and can 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.
- Nicotine is found in cigarettes, cigars, bidis, e-cigarettes/vaping,
hookahs, 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 disease, 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. Vaping and using smokeless
tobacco are not effective ways of quitting smoking and can also be
harmful. Like smoking, dipping and chewing tobacco have serious health
effects, including oral cancer, gum problems, loss of teeth, and heart
problems. Vaping and e-cigarettes expose the user to high levels of
multiple chemicals increasing the risk of lung disease.
Quitting smoking or smokeless tobacco is difficult. Usually people make two
or 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. Support is available
through Counseling and Psychological Services. Smoking cessation classes
are also offered through the Health and Wellness Programs.
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