Alcohol and Substance Abuse on College Campuses Laura Tashian, Maggie Scott, Justin Reichardt, Taylor Dunlap

It is popular belief that college is a time when excessive consumption of alcohol and drugs is okay. College campuses across America, including Clemson, have made attempts at educating their student bodies that alcohol and drugs are unsafe and can lead to serious ramifications. However, despite these efforts, these problems still exist on large scales today. A sizable proportions of college students binge drink and use illegal drugs and often suffer the consequences of them. Something needs to change.


Many times alcohol abuse is glorified among peers, as seen in the video above. They advertise that binge drinking is fun and what college is all about, however they fail to show the many consequences that can arise from substance abuse.


In 2013, 68% of incoming Freshman at Clemson REPORTED they didn't drink. 42% of first year students reported not drinking in the past 30 days.

Only 21.7% of Clemson students reported that they are users of an illegal drug, however almost half of students believe that the average student on campus uses an illegal drug at least once a week.

25% of students blame academic problems on their use of alcohol.


We wanted to find out the true facts about how many Clemson students drink and use drugs, as well as learn their opinions on Clemson's current alcohol and drug use educational programs and policies. So, we sent out a survey to undergrad students and ensured them that their answers would be kept anonymous.

When asked how often they consumed alcohol, 70.2% of students responded with at least a few times a month.

Of the same students surveyed 69.6% claimed that on an average night of drinking they aimed to get to at least a 5 on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the drunkest.

Survey done by us April 2017 via Google Forms

36.4% of students said their use of alcohol and or drugs had a negative effect on their academics.

21.3% reported to be regular users of marijuana and 19.1% said they have only used it a few times since being at Clemson.

When asked which prescription drugs they thought were most often abused, 91.1% said Adderall and 51.1% said Xanax.

17% say they have used non-prescribed prescription drugs

40.4% say that Clemson does not do a good job of addressing the issues presented

It is clear to see that students do not feel that the educational programs either do not exist, fail at their purpose, or do not cover material in the best manner.

Would you feel safe calling for help if you or a friend needed it?

Students do not feel comfortable seeking help in the case of a medical emergency in fear of getting in legal or academic trouble. This is sad and needs to be addressed because students should not be afraid of getting in trouble in serious life or death situations.
Substance abuse is a lot more common than one might think and has some pretty serious implications.
It Appears that clemson's reports do not align with national reports nor the reports of their own students.



Each year nearly 2,000 college students will die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor vehicle accidents.

-Physical Assault

Each year nearly 700,000 college students are assaulted by another student who has been drinking.

-Sexual Assault

Each year over 97,000 college students REPORT experiencing alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.


1 in 4 college students who drink will experience academic consequences including missing class, falling behind, performing poorly on exams or papers, and receive lower grades overall.

-Health Problems

Consuming excessive amounts of drugs and/or alcohol can lead to damage to organs (heart, brain, liver), diseases (hearth disease, cancer), development of mental illnesses, and permanent damages to hormonal and nervous systems

Other Potential Consequences Include:

-suicide attempts


-engaging in unsafe sex

-driving under the influence

-participating in vandalism and property damage

-legal troubles

-loss of job/scholarship

-damage to social networks/relationships

-decreased involvement in activities one used to enjoy

-trouble managing responsibilities

-inability to stop using or make a change in behavior

-withdrawal symptoms

-significant time spent seeking the substance or dealing with the aftereffects (i.e. a hangover)

An Impaired Individual Will Likely Experience:

-irregular heart rhythms

-inability to focus

-slurred speech, clumsiness, and lack of balance



-mood swings

-increase in risk-taking behaviors

Clemson's Rules

I. Standards of Conduct

Clemson University prohibits the illicit or unauthorized manufacture, use, possession, distribution or dispensation of alcohol or illegal drugs on University property or as part of any University activity. More specifically:

a. No student shall unlawfully manufacture, use, possess, distribute or dispense any illegal drug, controlled substance or alcohol.

b. No student under 21 years of age shall possess, sell, purchase or consume alcoholic liquor, beer or wine.

c. No student of legal age shall purchase for, or sell or provide to, a person under 21 years of age any alcoholic liquor, beer or wine.

d. No student of legal age shall possess or consume alcoholic liquor, beer or wine except in areas designated by the University.

"Alcohol and Drug Use Policy." Clemson University, n.d. Web.

Clemson's Medical Alcohol Amnesty Policy:

Students who go to the hospital with alcohol related injury or illness will not be disciplined by Clemson University regarding anything related to the possession or consumption of alcohol. Students get to use this policy no more than once per year. Despite not being disciplined, students still can be referred to alcohol education classes and might have to sit down with the Dean of Students to discuss the event.

However, in reference to our above survey, more than 50% of students would not feel safe calling 911 in the case of an emergency. While students may not get in trouble with the University, they can find themselves in legal trouble for underage drinking.

This is a copy of a letter that a student caught drinking on campus underage will receive.

The Actual Steps:

Incident occurs involving student on campus being caught with alcohol Student is written up and receives letter in picture above. Student attends meeting with the Office of Community and Ethical Standards where he is given the choice to argue his case or, if it his first time being caught, choose Tiger STEPS After Tiger STEPS is chosen, he has to pay a $50 fee for a three hour Alcohol Awareness class given at Clemson Following the class, he has to participate in ten hours of community service in the Clemson community. After completing both the class and the community service, he has to write a two-three page synthesis paper about the experience and how he would go back and change his actions as well as the potential impacts of his actions


Clemson's only alcohol and drug education program is a 90 minute peer led discussion that mentions these topics, however they are not the only ones discussed. They are a required part of the first semester CU1000 class.

Changes To Be Made

With 70.2% of Clemson students reporting drinking several times a month – the majority of these students abusing alcohol while drinking – new policies need to be adopted to keep Clemson’s students safe.

A comprehensive educational program could be required for all incoming Clemson students where not only the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse are discussed, but also the policies in place could be outlined clearly to raise awareness of resources on campus. Many students are concerned about using the Medical Alcohol Amnesty Policy for fear of legal trouble with the Clemson police. Ensuring that this policy does not involve the campus or community police is imperative to keeping students safe.

In addition, instead of requiring lengthy programs such as Tiger Steps that often do not change the students’ behaviors, educational programs focusing more on how to drink responsibly and avoid the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse could be used as the consequence for a drinking or drug related incident reported on campus.

Other campuses such as Stanford have adopted programs like Think About It and “open door policies” that have created the ability to openly discuss and monitor students’ alcohol intake. Freshmen complete a three-part education program during their first semester focusing on how to “party smart.”

State drinking laws are not enforced on this campus, allowing students to possess and consume alcohol to limit binging problems that occur with prohibited alcohol. The RAs step in only when risky behavior occurs.

If Clemson adopted an “open door policy” similar drops in alcohol and drug abuse could occur on our campus.


"Alcohol and Drug Use Policy." Clemson University, n.d. Web.

CBS News. “The Dangers of ‘Drunkorexia’.” YouTube. YouTube, 8 July 2016. Web. 24 April 2017.

"College Drinking." (n.d.): n. pag. NIAAA. NIAAA, Dec. 2015. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.

EnnVision. “Clemson Halloween Party 2015.” YouTube. YouTube, 15 November 2015. Web. 24 April 2017.

Kazdan, Josh. "Campus Alcohol Statistics Shift under New Policies." The Stanford Daily. The Stanford Daily, 11 Apr. 2017. Web. 20 Apr. 2017.

Marcus, Mary Brophy. ""Drunkorexia" a Disturbing Trend on College Campuses." CBS News. CBS Interactive, 06 July 2016. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.

Mariwala, Arnav. "Enjoy Responsibly: Alcohol Policies at American Universities." The Stanford Daily. The Stanford Daily, 8 May 2015. Web. 20 Apr. 2017.

"Medical Alcohol Amnesty Policy." Medical Alcohol Amnesty Policy | Clemson University, South Carolina. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2017.

Spielman, Jason. “Clemson- I’m Shmacked.” YouTube. YouTube, 12 January 2016. Web. 24 April 2017.

"Tiger STEPS Registration." Tiger STEPS | Clemson University Student Affairs. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2017.


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