Substance Abuse Policy

Alcohol, Tobacco and Drug-Free Campus Policy

Southern Adventist University strives to maintain a safe and healthy environment for its students. In addition to following federal, state, and local legal statutes on alcohol and drugs, Southern adopts the temperance practices and health principles embraced by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Therefore, all students are expected to refrain from the use of alcohol, drugs, and tobacco while enrolled at Southern.

Because of the Adventist health message and because of federally-mandated statutes, Southern includes a preventative educational program to its students to develop an awareness of the risks involved in alcohol, tobacco, and drug use and to promote the benefits of a lifestyle free of these substances. Moreover, Southern may, in its discretion, provide or refer to therapeutic alternatives any student involved in the use of alcohol, tobacco, drugs—illicit or prescription—or other mood-altering substances.

Violations of this policy, include, but are not limited to, on- or off-campus use, possession, purchase, sale, manufacture or distribution of 

    • Tobacco, tobacco products, e-cigarettes,
    • Alcoholic beverages,
    • Illegal drugs or drug-related paraphernalia,
    • Prescription drugs—when the use of these drugs fits the description of illegal use.

When the unlawful possession of controlled substances or drug paraphernalia is discovered, Southern confiscates the item(s), investigates the circumstances of their presence on campus, and institutes appropriate disciplinary sanctions. All confiscated contraband is given to the appropriate authority or destroyed. The local authorities are called if any laws have been broken.

Southern reserves the right to investigate students when a reasonable suspicion exists of their use or possession of tobacco, drugs, or alcohol. An investigation may include a search of one’s property, alcohol and drug screenings, 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 Services or a residence hall dean.

When reasonable suspicion exists or when a search uncovers the presence of alcohol, drugs, or tobacco in or on the property of students, the students who have violated this policy will be required to submit to chemical screening.

Students who violate this policy, refuse to be tested, or provide false information can expect disciplinary action up to and including dismissal. In addition, all violators of the policy are subject to applicable federal, state, and local laws.

Any Southern student found with alcohol, illicit drugs, or drug paraphernalia on campus property may be asked to withdraw from Southern for at least a semester before re-admittance of the student will be considered.

The entire process of an alcohol, drug, or tobacco investigation is treated with the highest confidentiality. Only those entities of the campus community that are in a need-to-know situation are informed of a student’s violation of this policy. As such, the Schools of Nursing, Social Work, and Theology have regulations that prohibit the admittance or matriculation of students in their programs. Therefore, those schools will be informed of their students’ violations of this policy.


If a student is suspected of having violated Southern’s alcohol-, tobacco-, drug-free policy, the following protocol is followed: 

Step 1—Assessment:  

  • If the suspicion is that a student has consumed alcoholic beverages, an initial assessment for alcohol will be performed by a trained residence hall dean or personnel.
  • If the suspicion is that a student is using tobacco or illicit drugs or abusing prescription drugs use, the initial assessment is performed by a qualified professional and/or qualified assessment facility.
  • If the initial assessment confirms that this policy has been violated, a chemical screening is performed on the student by a qualified professional and/or qualified assessment facility. This screening is performed whether the violation is for alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs, or prescription drugs.

    NOTE: The student will pay the screening if it comes back positive.

Step 2—Evidence: The vice president for Student Services (or someone designated by the vice president) presents the student with the evidence from the above discovery processes:

All students who have violated this policy are asked to sign a release of confidentiality so that the vice president for Student Services can coordinate services and verify progress with the student's treatment provider and/or counselor.

Step 3—Suspension: A student who has been involved in substance abuse while enrolled at Southern is suspended for a period of 3-5 days.

Step 4—Treatment and Reinstatement: The student is required to follow the recommendations provided by the professional chemical abuse counselor.

If the student is deemed fit to resume classes, the student will be placed on Citizenship Probation while participating in an educational program specified by the assessment personnel. This program will include, but will not be limited to, six weeks of Alcohol and Drug Education. In addition, the student may need to attend off-campus programs such as an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) or support groups (such as Alcoholic Anonymous, Narcotic Anonymous).

If the student is assessed to have a chemical dependency, he or she will be required to enroll in either an outpatient or inpatient treatment program as a condition of further enrollment.

The student must present satisfactory evidence of compliance with the specified educational program. If the student does not comply with a specified educational program, he or she may be subject to further sanctions.

If the student is determined to have a chemical dependency that requires an IOP or inpatient program that makes successful matriculation impossible, he or she may be required to withdraw from Southern for the rest of the semester during which the violation occurred. The purpose of the withdrawal is to complete successfully the appropriate level of care. The individual must present satisfactory evidence of compliance with the specified educational program before admission to Southern is considered.

Upon reinstatement, the student signs a letter of commitment to abstinence from alcohol, tobacco, and drugs during the rest 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, or tobacco. I understand that any failure to do so will require my immediate withdrawal.              
        2. I will attend all alcohol and drug education meetings as scheduled by Southern.
        3. I agree to submit to any screening process Southern requires and pay for the expenses of such screening.

Step 5—Follow-up: Reinstated students must participate in the established drug education program at Southern, during which the student’s behavior is monitored and further use of alcohol, tobacco, and drugs is discouraged. This program will involve an individualized combination of the following:

Alcohol and Drug Education: The student must attend six weekly seminars that emphasize education regarding chemicals and resistance to their use. These seminars are not to be considered rehabilitation.

Counseling: A group facilitator from Counseling and Testing Services interviews each student entering and exiting the alcohol and drug education group in order to assist in the process of recovery.

Alcoholics Anonymous/Narcotics Anonymous: If other abstinence reinforcement activities are temporarily unavailable, Southern may require attendance of Alcohol Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings. In this situation, the student is asked to furnish documentation that he or she has attended the meetings.

Random Screening: The student must be willing to submit to random screening as a condition of his or her readmission to Southern. Any expense for such screening will be paid by the student.

Community Service Hours: In some cases, Southern may also require community service.

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

Step 6—Probation: Students who have been readmitted are subject to citizenship probation for a period specified at the time of readmission. Students who use substances banned by this policy after being reinstated may be subject to dismissal from the university.

Notification of Alcohol/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.


Campus-wide educational programs regarding substance abuse are conducted by the university.  These programs include, but are not be limited to, the dangers of substance abuse to self and others 

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 that it is not prescribed to 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’s 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’s 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 must be offered treatment with no record of arrest.


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

Financial Aid Ramifications

Students receiving federal Title IV financial aid must certify that he or she does not engage in unlawfully manufacturing, distribution, 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 Health Service or Counseling and Testing Services. All requests are confidential.

Other agencies that can provide support include:

Counsel for Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services, Inc.

     Focus Healthcare

Fortwood Center, Inc.

     Johnson Mental Health Center
     423.634.8995 / 423.634.8884

Valley Psychiatric Hospital


Health Risks


There are many health risks associated with the use and abuse of alcohol, which is a central nervous system depressant. 

Whether or not one appears drunk, everyone who drinks experiences central nervous system impairment. As the blood alcohol concentration rises, there is corresponding loss of inhibitions, decrease of judgment, increase in erratic emotions, and loss of coordination and reflex activity. 

At blood alcohol concentrations of .40, a person often becomes unresponsive. Blood alcohol concentrations of .50 can cause death from respiratory arrest. 

Though alcohol’s acute effects on the central nervous system account for the most dramatic and observable phenomena associated with drinking, virtually all organ systems are affected by the acute and chronic presence of alcohol. Among the problems that may be encountered in otherwise healthy individuals are:

sleep disorders    gastrointestinal complaints
eating disorders    cardiomyopathy (chronic disease of the heart muscle
folic acid deficiency and resulting anemia    enlarged liver
hepatitis    cirrhosis
hypoglycemia    depressions
anxioty disorders    suicide

 *In addition, alcoholic mothers can give birth to babies with fetal alcohol syndrome.


Tobacco is the most addictive of all drugs. Tolerance to nicotine develops faster than to cocaine or heroin, while stimulating the same areas of the brain as cocaine and amphetamines. Within a few hours after smoking tobacco, the body adapts to the toxins, making a person believe he must smoke to feel “normal.” Tobacco causes:

cancer chronic bronchitis
diminished sense of tast and smell emphysema
heart disease recurrent colds
stroke bad breath
premature face wrinkles stained teeth

 *Tobacco use contributes to nearly 1.5 million new cases of cancer yearly.

Illicit Drugs

The illicit use of drugs increases the risk of contracting hepatitis, AIDS, and other infections. Using alcohol or drugs singularly or in certain combinations has caused death.

Cocaine anesthetizes the mucus membrane and stimulates the central nervous system. The sense of stimulation received from cocaine probably results from the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and a sense of alertness. Chronic cocaine use eventually leads to dopamine depletion, leaving one incapable of feeling pleasure without the drug. Chronic users also experience cocaine-triggered seizures or psychotic behavior. Someone using cocaine experiences a strong compulsion to take more of the drug each time it is used. The speed and probability of addiction differs for each individual, but for those with a personal or family history of drug addiction or alcoholism, addiction is significantly increased. Cocaine causes: 

cold sewats compulsive lying
confusion decreased libido
depression dialated pupils
fatigue hallucinations
increased blood pressure   increased body temperature
insomnia intense anxioty
irritability mental ilness (indisinguishable from schizophrenia)
myocardial infarction myocardial rupture
nausea / vomiting pale skin, tremors
paranoia poor concentration
seizures tachycardia
weightloss withdrawl from normal activities

  *If cocaine is used during pregnancy, babies can be born addicted.

Marijuana is a complex drug with more than 400 chemical ingredients. Among them are around 70 psychoactive elements, the most significant being tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The chemical reactions caused by burning marijuana result in as many as 2,000 secondary chemicals. Marijuana affects cell function, cell division, and cell immunity. Marijuana causes poor transmission of nerve cell impulses between cells, producing far-reaching negative effects on the central nervous system and negatively affecting comprehension, memory, sleep, mood, coordination, and vision. 

Other effects of marijuana use include: 

abnormally rapid heart rate bronchitis
elevated blood pressure lower testosterone levels in males / increased in females
lung cancer sinusitis

  *Moderate-to-heavy use can result in infertility, and birth defects have been associated with use during pregnancy.

Amphetamines, commonly called “pep pills,” are central nervous system stimulants. Amphetamines promote nerve impulse transmission by releasing stored norepinephrine from nerve terminals in the brain. Symptoms
associated with these drugs include:

anorexia irritability
changes in libido itching
chills metallic taste
cramps nausea / vomiting
diarrhea / constipation overstimulation
dizziness palpitations
dry mouth restlessness
dsyphoria (general dissastisfaction with life tachycardia
headache talkativeness
hyperactivity tremors
impotence weight loss

Barbiturates, commonly referred to as “downers,” are central nervous system depressants derived from barbituric acid. Barbiturates have been used as sedatives, hypnotics, anesthetics, and anticonvulsants and can cause:

angioedma (rapid swelling of the skin) itching
drowsiness lethargy
gastrointestinal problems nausea / vomiting
hangover rash

Methamphetamine is an addictive stimulant that triggers the brain to release norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin, causing a sense of rush
followed by a state of high agitation, which can lead to violent behavior. 

Other effects include: 

anxiety irritability / aggression
convulsions nervousness
decreased appetitie paranoia
delusions of parasites or insects crawling under the skin repetitive behavior (such as compulsively disassembling and assembling objects
hallucinations stroke
increased wakefulness and insomnia toxic psychosis

Policy Review

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

rev. 6/15