Drug and Alcohol Prevention and Explanation of Sanctions and Health Risks

Abilene Christian University is committed to maintaining an alcohol and drug-free campus.  The following are prohibited and will result in immediate disciplinary action, up to discharge:  reporting to work under the influence of intoxicating liquor or illegal drugs; or the use, possession, purchase or transfer by an employee on university premises or property (such as storage in a desk, locker, vehicle or other personal property), or during work time, of an intoxicating liquor, controlled or illegal substance, a drug not medically authorized, or any other substances which impair job performance or pose a hazard to the safety and welfare of the employee, the public, or other employees; or the sale of such item.  

The following laws and university polices below are not to be construed as all encompassing.  University officials are given discretion in addressing incidents not listed below.

State, Local and Federal Laws  

Applicable Texas state laws and sanctions include, but are not limited to:

  • Public Intoxication (Texas Penal Code Sec. 49.02)
    Defined as being intoxicated in public to the degree that one poses a danger to him/herself or to others. Class C Misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $500 and/or subject to arrest.
  • Possession of Alcoholic Beverage in Motor Vehicle (Texas Penal Code 49.031)
    Defined as possessing an opened container of alcohol in a motor vehicle regardless of whether the vehicle is being operated or is stopped or parked. Class C Misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $500.
  • Driving While Intoxicated (Texas Penal Code Sec. 49.04)
    Class B Misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $2,000 and/or 180 days in jail.

The Texas Penal Code defines intoxication as “not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug” or any combination of substances.  Therefore, drug consumption and intoxication laws under the Texas Penal Code may overlap with alcohol offenses.

Applicable Texas state drug laws and sanctions include, but are not limited to:

  • Manufacture or Delivery of a Controlled Substance (Texas Penal Code Sec. 481.1121, 481.113, 481.114)
    Defined as knowingly manufacturing, delivering, or possessing with intent to deliver a controlled substance without a valid prescription. The minimum penalty (depending on amount) includes a State Jail Felony punishable by a fine up to $10,000 and a minimum of 180 days up to 2 years jail. 
  • Possession of a Controlled Substance (Texas Penal Code Sec. 481.115, 481.116, 481.117, 481.118)
    Defined as knowingly or intentionally possessing a controlled substance without a valid prescription. The minimum penalty (depending on amount) includes a Class B Misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $2,000 and/or 180 days in jail.
  • Possession of Marijuana (Texas Penal Code Sec. 481.121)
    Defined as knowingly or intentionally possessing a usable quantity of marijuana.  The minimum penalty (depending on amount) includes a Class B Misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $2,000 and/or 180 days in jail.
  • Possession or Delivery of Drug Paraphernalia (Texas Penal Code Sec. 481.125)
    Defined as knowingly or intentionally using or possession with intent to use drug paraphernalia. The minimum penalty includes a Class C Misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $500.

Offenses listed above that occur within 1,000 feet of property owned by an institution of higher learning may be punishable to stricter criminal sanctions.

For more information on specific state codes, including the Texas Penal Code, Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, and the Texas Health and Safety Code, visit: http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/

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Federal Law  

Civil Rights Forfeiture
According to state and federal laws, a person convicted of certain misdemeanor or felony offenses may forfeit certain civil rights, including his/her right to vote, hold public office, purchase or possess firearms, or obtain or maintain certain licenses for a specified period of time. (United States Code Sec. 1973gg-6, United States Code Sec. 992 (g).

Possession of a Controlled Substance (United States Code 844 (a)
Defined as knowingly or intentionally possesses a controlled substance unless such substance was obtained directly or pursuant to a valid prescription or order, from a practitioner.  Punishable by up to 1 year imprisonment and/or a minimum fine of $1,000.  Note: Possession of Flunitrazepam (also known as Rohypnol) may be punishable by up to 3 years imprisonment.

For more information on specific United States Codes, visit: http://www.gpoaccess.gov/uscode/

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University Policies on Alcohol and Drugs  

All policies and regulations of the Employee Handbook apply to all faculty and staff on or off campus.  Employees found in violation of such policies will be assessed the full range of disciplinary action up to discharge.

  • The possession, consumption, or distribution of alcoholic beverages on campus (including all ACU residence halls and ACU affiliated apartments) is strictly prohibited.
  • Alcohol is prohibited at all University-sponsored events (including off-campus events).
  • Intoxicated employees coming to work, onto campus or to a University-sponsored event will receive disciplinary action up to discharge.  
  • Alcohol paraphernalia (such as glassware commonly used to serve alcoholic beverages; empty beer bottles or cans; posters, clothing, or signs promoting alcohol, etc.) is not permitted on campus.
  • Consuming alcoholic beverages in the presence of students, on or off campus, is not permitted. 

All employees must abide by Texas law related to the possession, consumption, and distribution of alcohol. (Refer to the section above entitled: State, Local and Federal Laws).

Non-Disciplinary Process for Employees Voluntarily Reporting Alcohol or Drug Use
In keeping with the redemptive nature of ACU's disciplinary policy, employees who come forward voluntarily confessing a violation of the university policies or an addictive lifestyle (such as using illegal drugs and controlled substances, or alcohol use or abuse) may be afforded an opportunity to submit to a range of possibilities outside the disciplinary process.  Click here for details on our Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

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Health Risks and Resources  

Description of Health Risks Associated with Alcohol and Drugs    

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 of an accident. Low to moderate doses of alcohol also increase the incidence of a variety of aggressive acts, including relationship problems. Moderate to high doses of alcohol severely alter a person's ability to learn and remember information. Very high doses, or low doses combined with other prescription medication (such as Adderall), cause respiratory depression and death. 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, may permanently damage vital organs such as the brain and liver. Mothers who drink while pregnant 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 greater risk than other youngsters of becoming alcoholics.

Anabolic Steroids
Anabolic steroids are powerful compounds closely related to the male sex hormone testosterone. Developed in the 1930s, steroids may be taken orally or injected. Current legitimate medical uses are limited to certain kinds of anemia, severe burns and some types of breast cancer. When combined with a program of muscle-building exercise and diet, steroids may contribute to increases in body weight and muscular strength. Today, many young people use steroids to accelerate physical development. Steroid users may develop more than 70 side effects, ranging in severity from liver cancer and sterility to acne. Psychological effects include very aggressive behavior, known as "roid rage," and depression. While some side effects appear quickly, others, such as heart attacks and strokes, may not show up for years. Signs of steroid use include quick weight and muscle gains; behavioral changes, particularly increased aggressiveness and combativeness; jaundice; purple or red spots on the body; swelling of feet or lower legs; trembling; darkening of the skin; and persistent, unpleasant breath odor.

All forms of cannabis have negative physical and mental effects. Physical effects of cannabis include increase in heart rate, bloodshot eyes, dry mouth and throat, and hunger. Smoking marijuana is damaging to the lungs and respiratory system. The tar in marijuana smoke is carcinogenic. Use of cannabis may impair short-term memory and comprehension, alter sense of time, and reduce ability to perform tasks requiring concentration and coordination, such as driving a car. Knowledge retention may be lower when information is given while a person is "high." Motivation and cognition are altered, making the acquisition of new information difficult. Marijuana can also produce depression, paranoia and psychosis. Long-term users may develop dependence. Marijuana smoke contains more cancer-causing agents than tobacco smoke.

Cocaine stimulates the central nervous system, and long term use can lead to dependence. Its immediate effects include dilated pupils, elevated blood pressure and body temperature, and increased heart rate. Chronic use can cause ulceration of the mucous membrane in the nose. Injecting cocaine with unsterile equipment can transmit AIDS, hepatitis and other infections. Preparation of freebase, which involves the use of highly volatile solvents, can result in fire or explosion. Crack or freebase rock, a concentrated form of cocaine, is extremely potent. Its effects are felt within 10 seconds of administration. The drug produces the same physical effects as cocaine, as well as insomnia, loss of appetite, tactile hallucination, paranoia and seizures. Cocaine use may lead to death through disruption of the brain's control of heart and respiration.

The effects of depressants are similar to those of alcohol in many ways. Small amounts can produce calmness and relaxed muscles, but larger doses can cause slurred speech, staggering gait, and altered perception. Very large doses can cause respiratory depression, coma, and death. The combination of depressants and alcohol can increase the effects of the drugs and multiply the risks. The use of depressants can cause both physical and psychological dependence. Regular use may result in tolerance to the drug, leading the user to increase the quantity consumed. When regular users stop taking depressant drugs, they may develop withdrawal symptoms ranging from restlessness, insomnia, and anxiety to convulsions and death.

Ecstasy and Other Club Drugs
Illegal drugs are defined in terms of their chemical formulas. To circumvent these legal restrictions, underground chemists modify the molecular structure of certain illegal drugs to produce analogues known as designer or club drugs. These drugs can be several times stronger than the drugs they imitate. Many can cause severe neurochemical damage to the brain. The narcotic analogues can cause uncontrollable tremors, drooling, impaired speech, paralysis, and irreversible brain damage. Analogues of amphetamines and methamphetamines cause nausea, blurred vision, chills, or perspiration and faintness. Psychological effects include anxiety, depression, and paranoia. As little as one dose can cause brain damage. The analogues of phencyclidine cause illusions, hallucinations, and impaired perception.

Phencyclidine (PCP) interrupts the function of the neocortex, the section of the brain that controls the intellect and keeps instincts in check. Because the drug blocks pain receptors, violent PCP episodes may result in self-inflicted injuries. PCP often causes distance and space estrangement, lack of muscular coordination, and dulled senses. Time and body movement are slowed, and speech is blocked and incoherent.  Chronic users of PCP report memory and speech difficulties. Some of these effects may last a year following prolonged daily use. Mood such as depression, anxiety, and violent behavior also occur. Long-term chronic users may become paranoid and violent and experience hallucinations. Large doses may produce convulsions, coma, or heart and lung failure. Lysergic acid (LSD), mescaline, and psilocybin (mushrooms) cause illusions and hallucinations. Physical effects may include dilated pupils, elevated body temperature, increased heart rate and blood pressure, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, and tremors. Sensations and feelings may change rapidly. It is common to have a bad psychological reaction to LSD, mescaline, and psilocybin (mushrooms). The user may experience panic, confusion, suspicion, and anxiety. Delayed effects, or flashbacks, can occur even after use has ceased.

A variety of psychoactive substances have been inhaled as gases or volatile liquids. Many popular commercial preparations such as paint thinners and cleaning fluids are mixtures of volatile substances making it difficult to be specific about their various effects. Immediate negative effects of inhalants may include nausea, sneezing, coughing, nose bleeds, fatigue, lack of coordination, and loss of appetite. Solvents and aerosol sprays may also decrease the heart and respiratory rates and impair judgment. Amyl and butyl nitrate cause rapid pulse, headaches, and involuntary passing of urine and feces. Long-term use may result in hepatitis or brain damage, weight loss, fatigue, electrolyte imbalance, and muscle weakness. Repeated sniffing of concentrated vapors over time can lead to permanent damage of the nervous system.

Narcotics initially produce a feeling of euphoria followed by drowsiness, nausea, and vomiting. Users may experience constricted pupils, watery eyes, and itching. An overdose may produce slow and shallow breathing, clammy skin, convulsions, coma, and death. Tolerance to narcotics develops rapidly and dependence is likely. The use of unsterilized syringes may result in transmission of diseases such as AIDS, endocarditic, and hepatitis.

Other Stimulants
Stimulants can cause increased heart and respiratory rates, elevated blood pressure, dilated pupils, and decreased appetite. Users may perspire and experience headaches, blurred vision, dizziness, sleepiness, and anxiety. Extremely high doses can cause rapid or irregular heartbeat, tremors, loss of coordination, and physical collapse. An amphetamine injection creates a sudden increase in blood pressure that can result in stroke, very high fever, or heart failure. Users also report feeling restless, anxious, and moody. Persons who use large amounts of amphetamines over a long period of time can develop an amphetamine psychosis that includes hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia. These symptoms usually disappear when drug use ceases.

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This information was collected from the publication "What Works: Workplaces Without Drugs" U.S. Department of Labor, 1991.