Alcohol and Drugs

Drug Use

Students participating on Appalachian State University international programs are expected to abide by their host country laws as well as the Appalachian Code of Student Conduct and the Participant Agreement(PDF, 294K).

Each year, more than 2,000 U.S. citizens are arrested abroad. One-third of the arrests are on drug-related charges. Many of those arrested assumed that as a U.S. citizen they could not be arrested. From Asia to Africa, Europe to South America, U.S. citizens are finding out the hard way that drug possession or trafficking equals jail in foreign countries.

There is very little that anyone can do to help you if you are caught with drugs. You are operating under the laws of the host country and the regulations of the local institution. Neither the U.S. government nor Appalachian State University will be able to secure your release should you be caught.

Travelers should also always keep an eye on their luggage when in transit and should not accept packages or gifts from people they do not know.

Alcohol Use

The Appalachian State Code of Student Conduct and the Participant Agreement allow for responsible drinking if you are legally allowed to drink in your host country. Illegal, irresponsible drinking and/or misbehaving while drinking are violations of the University’s policy.

When choosing to drink in a foreign country students should take into consideration the following:

  • Some countries have laws or social norms about drinking that are different than those in the United States and ignoring these laws/norms may make you a target and put you at risk.
  • Your consumption of alcohol, and/or your behavior while under the influence, might lead to a violation of local laws in addition to program and University conduct codes.
  • Certain types of alcoholic beverages may be stronger than what you are used to in the United States and consequently your per drink tolerance may be significantly lower than in the US.
  • You are representing yourself but also your program, the U.S., and Appalachian State University. Your actions will reflect either positively or negatively on many people.

Although there may be no minimum drinking age in your host country (or a lower drinking age than in the U.S.), the customs regarding alcohol use in your host country may be very different from those in the U.S. You may be tempted to slip into - or to maintain - patterns of alcohol misuse while abroad. Such use may occur for a variety of reasons: a mistaken impression of how alcohol is used in your new surroundings; cheaper costs in some countries; a lower minimum drinking age; more lenient laws against drunkenness; or a desire to experiment or fit in. Alcohol abuse and misuse are not tolerated globally and will not be tolerated on Appalachian education abroad programs.

Alcohol when used to excess may result in:

  • Accidents and Injuries - Alcohol impairs judgment, perception, concentration, and motor coordination and can result in a range of accidents and injuries. Within the past few years a number of college students have been seriously injured or died in accidents abroad while intoxicated. These injuries and accidental deaths include several students who have fallen from balconies or bedroom windows, drowned in lakes or ponds on the way home from a party, or tripped on the sidewalk.
  • Alcohol Poisoning - Alcohol, when used to excess, can cause alcohol poisoning. The effects of alcohol poisoning can range from vomiting to falling into a coma and subsequent death. Too much alcohol can cause vital organs, such as the heart and lungs, to slow down and even stop, which results in death. Very often someone who dies from alcohol poisoning passes out and is allowed to “sleep it off.” This is a mistake. Anyone who drinks so much that they become unconscious or exhibit signs of alcohol poisoning (slow or irregular rate of respiration, change in skin color or temperature, disorientation to time) should receive immediate attention.
  • Sexual Assault and Sexually Transmitted Diseases - Alcohol use can result in a number of sexual consequences, including unprotected sex and sexual assault. Many sexual assaults involve the use of alcohol on the part of the perpetrator or the victim. Alcohol misuse can result in impaired judgment, which can put you at risk for either committing a sexual assault or becoming the victim of a sexual assault.

Rohypnol ("roofies" or the “date rape” drug) and GHB are two drugs that are often implicated in sexual assaults. They are odorless and tasteless (GHB can leave a slightly salty taste in a drink) and can be easily dissolved in a drink. When either of these drugs is administered, you can suffer from disinhibition, loss of consciousness, and the inability to remember events that took place while under the influence. Students should not accept drinks from people they do not know or leave their drinks unattended.  Some possible indicators of being drugged are:

  • Feeling more intoxicated than usual given the amount of alcohol you consumed
  • Waking up hung over, feeling “fuzzy,” experiencing memory lapses, and can’t account for a period of time
  • Not being able to remember what happened after consuming your last drink

If you think you may have been drugged, ask a friend to stay with you and take you to a hospital. At the hospital, request that the hospital take a urine sample to test for drugs in your system. If you believe that you were sexually assaulted, preserve as much physical evidence as possible. Do not urinate, shower, bathe, douche, or throw away the clothing that you were wearing during the incident.  For more information on Sexual Assault and resources available please visit the Interpersonal Violence web page.

Students are encouraged to look after each other while abroad.  If a student observes another student who has become incapacitated due to alcohol overuse, or if he/she is in need of medical attention, peers are encouraged to make the responsible choice to notify program or emergency personnel quickly.