Other Drugs & Substances

The college environment makes it possible that many students will encounter drugs other than alcohol during their years on the Hilltop. It’s important to understand the risks and effects of using other drugs such as marijuana, hallucinogens (PCP, LSD), narcotics (codeine, morphine, opium, heroin), cocaine, MDMA, stimulants, inhalants, and depressants.

  • The effects of marijuana can vary widely depending on the potency of the drug, any tolerance the user may have built up, the environment in which it is used, as well as other factors.
  • Short-term risks include: impairment to judgment and complex coordination, increased heart rate, paranoia, mild hallucinations, anxiety, impairment memory and other cognitive functions.
  • Long-term risks include: users can become dependent on and addicted to marijuana, and chronic use can damage the lungs.

  • A sense of distance and space estrangement, illusions and hallucinations.
  • Persistent memory problems and speech difficulties.
  • Induced violent episodes that can result in self-inflicted injuries or harm to others.
  • Negative psychological effects such as panic, confusion, suspicion, anxiety, and loss of control.
  • Side effects such as dizziness, weakness, tremors, nausea, and drowsiness.

  • Responses can vary depending on dosage, the purity of the narcotic, and the user’s physical condition.
  • Use originally produces feelings of euphoria followed by drowsiness, nausea, and vomiting.
  • Short-term risks include: nausea, constipation, constricted pupils, watery and itchy eyes, diminished sex drive, withdrawal related to dependence, and overdose/sudden death.
  • Long-term risks include: addiction and dependency, infections such as hepatitis, endocarditis, HIV, blood poisoning, and AIDS through the use of unsterilized syringes.

  • Use through inhaling can cause constant stuffy, runny nose and possible perforated nasal septum.
  • Dilated pupils, elevated blood pressure, increased heart and respiratory rate, higher body temperature, all followed by depression.
  • Long-term: extremely addictive, can result in delirium, hallucinations, blurred vision, severe chest pain, muscle spasms, convulsions, and death.

  • Ingestion of MDMA usually produces a mild, euphoric state with stimulant effects that can increase energy and decrease appetite.
  • Short-term risks include: anxiety, confusion, depression, sleep problems, paranoia, muscle tension, involuntary teeth clenching, increased heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature.
  • Symptoms can sometimes resemble Parkinson’s disease, with tremors, drooling, and impaired speech.
  • Long-term risks include: loss of serotonin in the brain, causing subtle but significant impairment to cognitive abilities, memory, math abilities, complex attention, and impulse regulation.

  • All drugs of this type are “central nervous stimulants”; Ritalin, Adderall, and other prescription stimulants are commonly prescribed to help those diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) improve focus and concentration. These prescription stimulants can interact negatively with a number of other substances.
  • Some students take prescription stimulants without a prescription as “study drugs” in hopes of improving academic performance. Any use of these drugs in the absence of a prescription constitutes illicit drug use.
  • Short-term risks include: depression and irritability following peak effect, high blood pressure, dehydration, hot flashes, nervousness, appetite suppression, stomach pains, palpitations, nausea, heavy sweating, decreased sex drive, headaches, blurred vision, and dizziness.
  • Long-term risks include: addiction, withdrawal, potential overdose, insomnia, digestive issues, vomiting, irregular heartbeat (cardiac arrhythmia), high blood pressure, allergic reactions, loss of appetite, sexual dysfunction, confusion, nervousness, psychotic episodes (hallucinations, delusions, paranoia), and seizures.

  • These drugs are often mixtures of highly volatile substances, making it difficult to specifically classify effects.
  • Some short-term effects may include: nausea, sneezing, coughing, nose bleeds, fatigue, lack of coordination, loss of appetite, and involuntary passing of urine and feces.
  • Some long-term effects may include: hepatitis, brain damage, nervous system damage, weight loss, fatigue, electrolyte imbalance, and muscle weakness.

  • Alcohol is classified as a depressant; other drugs in this category produce similar effects to consuming alcohol.
  • Short-term effects include: calmness, slurred speech, staggering gait.
  • Long-term effects include: dependence, withdrawal (restlessness, insomnia, convulsions).

What do I do if someone I’m with is experiencing a drug overdose?

Call GERMS (202-687-4357) for immediate medical assistance, or call 911 if off campus.

By calling GERMS or GUPD, the patient and the individual reporting will not face disciplinary actions for drug related violations.

Visit the Student Health Center’s overview of alcohol and other drugs for further information.