Substance Abuse Policy

Our Goal: Your Well-Being

Southern Adventist University is invested in maximizing our students’ health and success during their enrollment as a student on our campus. This emphasis is consistent with the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s embrace of health principles and temperance practices, which place a high value on the well-being of all persons. For this reason, we promote and work to maintain a drug-free campus via educational prevention programming, therapeutic screening and intervention for students experiencing substance-use issues, and disciplinary intervention in cases of drug-free policy violations.

In keeping with our drug-free campus policy, Southern specifically prohibits the on- and off-campus use, possession, purchase, sale, manufacture or distribution of

•  Alcoholic beverages
•  Illegal drugs or drug-related paraphernalia
•  Prescription drugs, when the use of these drugs fits the description of illegal use
•  Tobacco, tobacco products, e-cigarettes, or vaping devices or liquids (including non-nicotine vaping juices)

All enrolled students must also comply with all local, state, and federal laws pertaining to alcohol and other drugs. These include, but are not limited to, minors in possession of alcohol; underage drivers transporting alcohol; students operating a vehicle under the influence, possessing open containers of alcohol in a public space, having false or altered ID’s, selling or providing alcohol to minors; and possessing, manufacturing, or distributing illicit drugs. Legal sanctions under local, state and federal laws for the unlawful possession, use, or distribution of illegal drugs and alcohol encompass a wide range of penalties in the form of fines, loss of driving privileges, and prison terms.

It is expected, then, that all students will embrace the health principles that are the foundation of this policy and avoid the illicit substances that are outlined here.

Educational Prevention Programming

In compliance with the Drug-Free Schools and Campuses Regulations established by the U.S. Department of Education, Southern provides prevention programming and educational materials on the health and safety risks associated with the use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. More material on these topics may be found on Southern’s Student Development website. Additional educational materials may be found in the Student Success Center, where students can also receive free, confidential screening and intervention, as described below. In addition, Southern provides special prevention programming on these topics during scheduled emphasis weeks.

The Benefits of Seeking Help Voluntarily

Students who are experiencing substance-use issues are encouraged to seek help by contacting the Student Success Center at 423.236.2782, or visiting the office, which is located on the third floor of Lynn Wood Hall. Students who voluntarily seek help for their substance use will not be sanctioned. They will receive respectful, confidential screening and intervention from trained, licensed clinical mental health counselors. Our counseling center uses the BASICS (Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention of College Students) approach, a SAMHSA- (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) approved preventive intervention program designed for college students. Students whose use demonstrates a need for higher levels of care will be referred to area substance-use treatment facilities.

Drug-Free Campus Sanction Policy

If a student is found to be in possession of alcohol, illegal drugs, non-prescribed or abused prescription drugs, drug paraphernalia, or tobacco/nicotine products, Southern will confiscate the items, investigate the circumstances surrounding their presence on campus, and institute both appropriate therapeutic interventions and disciplinary sanctions. All confiscated items will be given to the appropriate authority or destroyed. Local law enforcement agencies will be called if any laws have been broken.

Southern reserves the right to investigate students when a reasonable suspicion exists of the use or possession of any of the above noted substances. An investigation may include a search of one’s property, alcohol and drug screenings (urine, hair, or both), and/or breathalyzer tests. If a search is part of an investigation, it may include the examination of any briefcases, backpacks, book bags, handbags, and any university or privately owned on-campus vehicles. Students’ residence hall rooms may also be included in the search. If a search is to be made, it must be authorized by the vice president for Student Development or a residence hall dean.

When reasonable suspicion exists or when a search uncovers the presence of drugs, alcohol, tobacco/nicotine, or related items in or on the property of a student, the student will be required to submit to chemical screening (urine, hair or both), and/or breathalyzer tests.  Any Southern student who is found to have these items on campus property may be asked to withdraw from Southern for at least a semester before re-admittance will be considered. Students who violate this policy, refuse to be tested, or provide false information can expect to be sanctioned up to and including dismissal. In addition, all violators of the policy are subject to applicable federal, state, and local laws.

The entire process of investigation into such policy violations is treated with the highest confidentiality. Only those entities of the campus community that are in a need-to-know capacity will be informed of the student’s violation of this policy. As such, the Schools of Nursing, Social Work, Religion, and Education and Psychology have handbook regulations that prohibit the admittance or matriculation of students who have violated this policy in their programs. Therefore, those schools will be informed of their students’ violations of this policy.

Disciplinary and Intervention Protocol

If a student is suspected of having violated Southern’s Drug-Free Campus Policy, the following protocol is implemented:

Step 1—Assessment

•  If it is thought that a student has consumed alcoholic beverages, an initial assessment for alcohol will be performed by a trained residence hall dean or  personnel.
•  If it is thought that a student is using illicit drugs, tobacco/nicotine products, or abusing prescription drugs, a qualified professional and/or qualified assessment facility will be called to administer a chemical screening or screenings.
•  These chemical screenings are performed whether the violation is for alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs, or prescription drugs. Southern determines the types of screenings and the number of screenings that will be administered in a situation.
•  If the professional administers a urine-sample screening and thereafter believes that the sample is adulterated—e.g., the sample is diluted, its temperature is below what a recent sample should be, or the sample suggests use outside of the time window that a urine sample can reveal—the professional may administer a hair-sample screening.
•  A students choice not to have this screening administered or to be absent during the administration will be considered a positive assessment.

Note: The student will pay for the qualified professional’s visit and the screening if the sample comes back positive.

Step 2—Evidence

The vice president for Student Development, or his/her designee, will present the student with the evidence derived from the above discovery processes.

Evidence or suspicions that students are distributing drugs may result in dismissal.

All students who have violated this policy will be asked to sign a release of information form  so that the vice president for Student Development can coordinate services and verify completion of programming with the student’s treatment provider and/or counselor.

Step 3—Suspension

A student who has violated the Drug-Free Campus Policy while enrolled at Southern will be    suspended for a minimum period of 3 consecutive days.

Step 4—Intervention and/or Treatment

The student will be required to follow the recommendations provided by the assessing facility as follows: If the student is deemed fit to resume classes, he or she will be required to participate in the BASICS program, as well as any other interventions recommended by the Counseling Center staff. In addition, the student may be required to attend off-campus programs such as an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) or support groups (such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, or Celebrate Recovery).

If the student is assessed to have a chemical dependency, he or she will be required to enroll in either outpatient or inpatient treatment, as recommended by the assessing  facility, as a condition of further enrollment. The student must present satisfactory evidence of compliance with the specified program. If the student does not comply with a recommended treatment, he or she may be subject to further sanctions.

Students who are assessed to have a chemical dependency that requires an IOP or inpatient program that makes successful matriculation virtually impossible may be  required to withdraw from Southern for the remainder of the semester during which the violation occurred. The purpose of the withdrawal is to make successfully   completing the appropriate level of care a greater possibility. The individual must present satisfactory evidence of compliance with the specified educational program before re-admission to Southern is considered.

Step 5: Reinstatement and Follow-up

Students who are compliant with these requirements will be reinstated and required  to sign a letter of commitment to abstinence from alcohol, drugs, and tobacco/nicotine during the remainder of the student’s time at Southern.

The following is a sample of such a commitment, though it may be individualized for a student’s specific situation: 

Alcohol and Drug Use Readmission Commitment

I, _____________, agree to accept the following conditions for continuing as a student at Southern Adventist University:
1) I will abstain from any use of alcohol, illicit drugs, and tobacco/nicotine. I   understand that any failure to do so will require my immediate withdrawal.
2) I will complete the intervention program as scheduled by Southern.
3) I agree to submit to any screening process Southern requires and pay for the expenses of such screening.


Reinstated students will be subject to the following requirements:

•  Accountability: Students will be monitored for compliance with, and completion of, their required on-campus intervention, off-campus treatment, and/or support group attendance, as noted above. The student’s behavior will also be monitored for further use of alcohol, tobacco/nicotine, and other prohibited drugs. Students who use substances banned by this policy after being reinstated may be subject to long-term suspension or dismissal from the university.
•  Citizenship Probation: Reinstated students will be placed on citizenship probation for a minimum of six weeks at the time of readmission. Further explication surrounding the specifics of this sanction may be found in the Student Handbook and Planner.
•  Periodic Screening: Students must be willing to submit to periodic chemical screening (urine, hair, or both) as a condition of their reinstatement and continued attendance at Southern. Any expense for such screening will be paid by the student.
•  Community Service Hours: In some cases, students may also be required to participate in community service.

Noncompliance with an individualized follow-up intervention plan may result in the student’s jeopardizing his or her stay at Southern in the semester during which the plan is to be completed, and a hold may be placed on his or her registration for subsequent semesters.

Random, Reasonable Suspicion, and Periodic Chemical Screening

In its efforts to promote a drug-free campus, Southern’s Student Development office uses the services of Physician Services Drug and Alcohol Testing, Inc., located in Cleveland, TN. Physician Services uses only professionally-trained technicians to administer urine- and hair-sample chemical screenings.

Southern administers three types of chemical screenings:

• Random: Randomly-selected students are administered a chemical screening on a monthly basis. Students who test negatively will not be subject to a subsequent random screening in the same academic year; however, if their names are randomly selected in a subsequent year, they may be tested again. Students who test positively will enter the protocol described above.

• Reasonable Suspicion: All students involved in an episode in which law enforcement, Southern residence-hall personnel, or Campus Safety suspect the use or presence of substances that are banned by this policy will be administered a chemical screening.

• Periodic: Students who have been administered a chemical screening whose results reveal a positive test will agree to monthly testing as part of their Alcohol and Drug Use Readmission Commitment, as noted above. A subsequent positive test may lead to long-term suspension.

Amnesty Policy 

The health and safety of every student at Southern Adventist University is of utmost importance. Southern recognizes that students who have been drinking and/or using drugs (whether such use is voluntary or involuntary) may be hesitant to report excessive intoxication or endangerment due to the fear of being sanctioned for their own conduct, or the conduct of their peers.

Southern strongly encourages students to contact campus officials, medical emergency personnel, or local law enforcement if they believe a person may be in need of assistance for alcohol or other substance intoxication. An impaired student or a bystander reporting in good faith will not be subject to campus sanctions for violations of Southern’s Drug-Free Campus Policy occurring at or near the time of the incident. This amnesty policy applies to emergencies both on and off campus.

A student who receives medical assistance for alcohol or drug use under this amnesty policy will be referred by the vice president for Student Development, or his/her representative, to a mandatory intervention and prevention program. Additionally, a student who calls for medical assistance for another student may be required to participate in Southern’s intervention.

Students lose this amnesty if, subsequent to seeking help for their illicit substance use, are found to be using the illicit substance. This violation, whether on or off-campus, will result in mandatory entry into Southern’s discipline and intervention program.

Repeated use of this amnesty policy is cause for a higher level of concern for the well-being of the student; such repeated cases will be individually reviewed.

As detailed in Southern’s Sexual Misconduct policy, students who become the victims of sexual misconduct while violating this drug-free policy will receive amnesty for this violation. Recognizing that sexual misconduct often occurs when students are drinking alcoholic beverages, Southern encourages the reporting of sexual misconduct by offering amnesty to any student who has been the victim of sexual misconduct or witnessed an assault. For a fuller discussion of amnesty in this situation, please refer to Southern’s Sexual Misconduct policy, which may be found on Southern’s Student Development website.

Notification of Alcohol and Drug Violations to Parents

In accordance with state law, Southern notifies the parent or legal guardian of any student under the age of 21 who is found to be in violation of federal, state, or local law or university policy related to the use, possession or distribution of drugs and/or alcohol.

Legal Ramifications

Illicit Drugs

Federal, state, and local laws make it illegal to possess, manufacture, distribute, dispense, deliver, sell, or possess with intent to manufacture, distribute, dispense, deliver, or sell controlled substances. The resulting penalty would depend upon many factors including the type and amount of controlled substance involved, number of prior offenses, incidence of death or serious bodily injury resulting from the use of such substance, and the commission of other crimes in connection with activities involving the controlled substance. Possible maximum penalties for a first-time violation include imprisonment for any period of time (up to life) and a fine up to $500,000. These penalties are doubled when the offense involves any of the following:

•  Distribution or possession at or near a school or college campus
•  Distribution to someone under 21 years of age

Furthermore, punishment for repeat offenders may be increased. In addition, a civil penalty of up to $10,000 may be assessed for simple possession of “personal use amounts” of certain substances under federal law. Under state law, possession or casual exchange is punishable as a Class A misdemeanor. If there is an exchange between a minor and an adult who is at least two years older than the minor and the adult knew that the person was a minor the offense is classified as a felony.

Also, possession of medication prescribed to someone else or giving medication to someone else to whom the medication is not prescribed will fall under the same category as possession of illicit or controlled substances.

Possession of drug paraphernalia is also considered a Class A misdemeanor, in the same category as possession of a controlled substance.


It is unlawful for anyone under the age of 21 to buy, possess, transport (unless required for employment), or consume alcoholic beverages. This Class A misdemeanor is punishable by imprisonment for up to 11 months and 29 days and/or a fine, and loss of driver’s license for one year. It is also against the law to provide alcoholic beverages to any person under the age of 21. In addition, public intoxication is a Class C misdemeanor that can lead to imprisonment for up to 30 days and/or a fine.

In Tennessee, a person may be charged with public intoxication if he or she appears in public under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance to the degree that the intoxicated person:

•  May be endangered
•  Presents a danger to other people or property, or
•  Unreasonably annoys people in the vicinity 

Public intoxication is a misdemeanor crime in Tennessee. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-10.)  The possible penalty for the crime is up to 30 days in jail, a fine of up to $50, or both. As noted above, in counties where treatment facilities are available, an individual taken into custody for public intoxication with no record of arrest must be offered treatment.

Tobacco and Nicotine

It is unlawful for any person to sell or distribute any tobacco or nicotine product to a person who is under 18 or to purchase a tobacco or nicotine product on behalf of a minor. Supplying tobacco or nicotine to a minor is a civil penalty punishable by a fine.

Financial Aid Ramifications

Students receiving federal Title IV financial aid must certify that they do not engage in unlawfully manufacturing, distributing, possessing, or using controlled substances. If a student is convicted of any of these behaviors, he or she must notify the director of Student Finance within five days of the conviction. A student convicted of violating the regulation may lose his or her federally funded financial aid and will be subject to disciplinary action by Southern.

Access to Treatment Information

Students needing substance abuse intervention and treatment information should contact Southern’s University Health Center or Counseling Center. All requests are confidential.

Other agencies that can provide support include:

• Celebrate Recovery  (423.485.1011)
• Council for Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services, Inc. (423.756.7644)
• Focus HealthCare; (423.308.2560)
• Helen Ross McNabb Center 423.266.6751) 
• Johnson Mental Health Center (423.634.8995 or 423.634.8884)
• Valley Psychiatric Hospital; 423.894.4220

Policy Review

This policy is subject to an annual review to determine its effectiveness, to implement changes that may be needed, to ensure that sanctions are consistently enforced, and to comply with new state and federal regulations.

Rev. Summer 2018