Health Risks Associated with Illicit Drug Use and Alcohol Abuse

The use of any illicit drug or abuse of alcohol is potentially hazardous to your health.  Faculty, staff, and students should evaluate the health risks associated with use of illicit drugs or abuse of alcohol. Synthetically produced drugs may contain impurities and the true amounts and ingredients are rarely known.  The effects of a drug may be significantly different with each use. There are serious physical and psychological health implications associated with the use and/or abuse of drugs and alcohol that vary based on the frequency, extent, and intensity of consumption. When consumed in excess, drugs and alcohol can also lead to overdose or death. Drug use can cause changes in the brain that result in memory and cognition problems or lead to more severe consequences such as seizures, stroke, and possible brain damage. Alcohol use can impair brain function and motor skills; excessive use can increase the risk of certain cancers, stroke, and liver disease. Drug and alcohol use while pregnant may result in a number of health complications for the fetus such as premature birth, miscarriage, and low birth weight. For more information on the use of drugs and/or alcohol and its effects on the brain and body, visit the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration states: "The illegal importation, manufacture, distribution, and possession and improper use of controlled substances have a substantial and detrimental effect on the health and general welfare of the American people."

The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism (NIAAA) provides comprehensive information and resources associated with alcohol abuse.  Some of the major health risks of alcohol abuse include alcohol dependence, lasting effects on the brain, sexual assault, and suicide. Visit: for more information. For college students in particular, visit:

Health risks associated with other drugs are outlined at