Dear Student,

Pursuant to the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act Amendments of 1989, Amherst College has a comprehensive program to prevent the use of illegal drugs and the abuse of alcohol. An annual communication piece is required to reemphasize the provisions of the Act and reiterate the College policies regarding maintaining a drug-free campus. In keeping with the requirements of the Act, we also review our alcohol and other drug (AOD) policies, programs, and services every two years. A copy of this biennial review is available upon request.

Amherst College provides education and counseling programs to ensure that all members of the college community know the risks associated with drug and alcohol abuse. The full AOD policy for students is available in the Student Handbook at: .

Standards of Conduct

The College understands that students make their own choices about AOD. However, any person who violates state or federal law, or College policy, is responsible for their own actions and may be subject to civil or criminal complaints – in addition to College sanctions – as outlined in further detail below. The College will not ignore violations of state or federal law, or College policy, and will not intervene on an individual’s behalf with campus, local or state law enforcement authorities.

Resources Those students concerned about their own substance use or worried about a friend can seek assistance with complete confidentiality at Health Services or the Counseling Center. Additional confidential support and assistance is available through local 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous at 413-532-2111, or Narcotics Anonymous at 866-624-3578.

Health Education is also a resource for students who are seeking information about how to speak with a friend they are concerned about or for students who want to think about changing their AOD use, through informal conversation or by going through BASICS.

Federal, State, and Local Sanctions

Students are reminded that Massachusetts law prohibits the purchase or consumption of alcoholic beverages by those under the age of 21. They should also understand that the courts of the Commonwealth have recently treated public drunkenness, especially when driving a motor vehicle, as a crime potentially subject to heavy fine and to jail or prison sentence. The purchase, sale or consumption of many drugs is also prohibited by law, and violation can result in prison sentence.

Legal penalties for violation of applicable local, state, or federal laws range from probation and forfeiture of property to fines and imprisonment. For example, the sanctions against an individual for distribution of, or possession with intent to distribute, controlled substances can be from a minimum of 10 years’ imprisonment to a maximum of life imprisonment, with fines up to $4 million. Sanctions can increase for repeat offenders or for offenses resulting in death or serious bodily harm and can be doubled for each of the following occurrences: distribution to persons under 21 years of age, distribution within 1,000 feet of a college or university or employing someone under 18 in the distribution. Attempt or conspiracy to commit a crime can be treated as severely as the intended offense. As of Sept. 1, 1989, conviction for violation of any state or federal drug law can lead to ineligibility for any federal benefit (including grants and loans).

Effect on Financial Aid

Students should also be aware that they will be ineligible for federal financial aid if they are convicted of an offense under federal or state law involving possession or sale of a controlled substance, provided that the conduct occurred while the student was enrolled and receiving federal financial aid. Ineligibility runs from the date of conviction for the following periods of time:

For drug possession: a first offense carries a one-year disqualification, a second offense carries a two-year disqualification, and a third offense makes the student ineligible indefinitely.

For sale of a controlled substance: a first offense carries a two-year disqualification, and a second offense makes the student ineligible indefinitely.

A student can regain eligibility by successfully completing an approved drug rehabilitation program.

For additional information about sanctions under federal law, see:

Under Massachusetts Law 

A person must be at least 21 years of age to legally purchase alcoholic beverages in Massachusetts.

  1. Purchase of an alcoholic beverage by an underage person or any arrangement with another person to procure such drinks is a crime punishable by a mandatory $300 fine.
  2. Willful misrepresentation of one’s age or the age of another person in order to purchase or receive alcoholic beverages (i.e., the use of a fake ID) is a crime punishable by a fine of up to $300 or by imprisonment of up to three months. Amherst College Police Department is mandated to report violations of this law to the Registry of Motor Vehicles.
  3. Any person who purchases for or furnishes a drink to someone underage commits a crime punishable by a fine of up to $2,000 or by imprisonment of up to one year or both.
  4. No person may serve an alcoholic beverage to anyone who is obviously inebriated.
  5. For operating a motor vehicle under the influence of AOD, the state of Massachusetts has set the legal limit for alcohol concentration in the blood at below .02 for anyone under 21 and .08 for anyone 21 and over. For many students (anyone under 160 lbs.), one drink will result in a blood alcohol content of over .02.

For additional details regarding Massachusetts drug and alcohol laws (including sanctions), see:

Under Town of Amherst Bylaw 

Keg Licensing Enforcement: A Town of Amherst bylaw requires a keg license, which can be obtained at the Amherst Police Department, for the possession of beer kegs anywhere in the town. There are substantial monetary penalties for violating this bylaw. The College Council has also passed a policy which will result in a $100 fine for possessing an unlicensed keg on the Amherst College campus.

Open Containers of Alcohol: No person shall consume any alcoholic beverage nor possess or transport any open can, bottle or other container containing any alcoholic beverage outdoors on any town street, sidewalk, way and public property including but not limited to parking lots, parks, school playgrounds, recreation areas or conservation areas.

Amherst College Sanctions

  1. If the Dean of Students or the Director of Community Standards learns that a student has been convicted of driving while intoxicated at any time between first enrollment at Amherst and graduation, whether in the vicinity of campus or anywhere else, that student will be denied parking privileges, and thus the capacity to keep a car on campus, for the remainder of their stay at Amherst, in addition to other possible sanctions.
  2. Kegs are prohibited from first-year residence halls.
  3. Hard alcohol (30% ethanol or greater) in any volume may only be possessed, stored, or used in bedrooms assigned to persons who are 21 or more years of age. Consequently, hard alcohol is not permitted for possession, storage, or use in lounges, hallways, or other parts of residence halls or other buildings on campus except when the College has expressly authorized it. Examples of exceptions include College-organized tent parties and other College-sponsored events.
  4. Possession of drug paraphernalia (pipes, bongs, hookahs, etc.) and alcohol paraphernalia associated with the dangerous consumption of alcohol (funnels, beer pong tables, etc.) is prohibited.
  5. All prohibited substances and paraphernalia will be confiscated and destroyed by campus authorities.
  6. Smoking cannabis, tobacco, e-cigarettes, or other related devices that create smoke or vapor in campus buildings is prohibited.
  7. It is the responsibility of individuals or room groups to ensure that legally possessed alcohol is not stored in an unsupervised manner in which someone underage may access it.
  8. No College funds may be used to purchase alcohol or on fundraisers to raise money to purchase alcohol. Funds may be used to pay for TIPS-certified student staff required for beverage service.
  9. Students are expected to follow all posted signs and instructions of the Amherst College Police Department or the Amherst College Athletics Department concerning the use of alcohol at athletic events.
  10. Alcohol-involved events must follow the Amherst College Party Policy found at

Sanctions for violation of Amherst College’s Statement on AOD range from written warning to expulsion and will be imposed as appropriate to the offense.  Information on College Sanctions can be found at

Health Effects of Drugs and Alcohol

Drug Type


Possible Effects

Effects of Overdose

Withdrawal Syndrome

(e.g. heroin, morphine, codeine)


Euphoria, drowsiness, respiratory depression, constricted pupils, nausea, vomiting, inability to concentrate, apathy, slowed physical activity, constipation

Slow and shallow breathing, constricted pupils, confusion, clammy skin, convulsions, extreme drowsiness, coma, possible death

Watery eyes, runny nose, yawning, loss of appetite, irritability, tremors, panic, cramps, nausea, vomiting, chills, sweating, restlessness, and severe depression

(e.g. GHB, benzodiazepines, roofies)


Slurred speech, disorientation, drunken behavior without odor of alcohol, impaired memory of events, interacts with alcohol, weakness, headache, blurred vision, slowed breathing, relieve anxiety and muscle spasms, induce sleep

Shallow respiration, clammy skin, dilated pupils, weak and rapid pulse, coma, possible death

Anxiety, insomnia, tremors, delirium, convulsions, psychotic thoughts, possible death

(e.g. cocaine, amphetamine, methamphetamine)


Increased alertness, excitation, euphoria, increased pulse rate and blood pressure, insomnia, loss of appetite, hallucinations, dizziness, excessive sweating

Agitation, increased body temperature, hallucinations, convulsions, cardiovascular collapse, possible death

Apathy, long periods of sleep, irritability, depression, disorientation, anxiety

(e.g. LSD, PCP, ecstasy, mushrooms, peyote)

Moderate - High

Heightened senses, teeth grinding, dehydration, illusions and hallucinations, altered perception of time and distance, elevated heart rate, increased blood pressure, dilated pupils

Increased body temperature, electrolyte imbalance, cardiac arrest; unable direct movement, feel pain, or remember, respiratory depression, coma, convulsions, seizures

Muscle aches, drowsiness, depression, acne, flashbacks

(e.g. marijuana, hashish, hashish oil)


Euphoria, relaxed inhibitions, increased appetite, disorientation, problems with memory, enhanced sensory perception, sedation, bloodshot eyes, decreased blood pressure

Fatigue, paranoia, possible psychosis, nausea

Insomnia, hyperactivity, decreased appetite, irritability

Anabolic Steroids
(e.g. testosterone)


Virilization, edema, testicular atrophy, gynecomastia, acne, aggressive behavior, high cholesterol

Unknown -- adverse effects develop from use of steroids over time

Possible depression


Low - High

Flushing, hypotension, headache, impaired memory, slurred speech, drunken behavior, slow onset vitamin deficiency, organ damage, euphoria, dizziness, weight loss, depression

Methemoglobinemia, vomiting, respiratory depression, loss of consciousness, possible death

Agitation, trembling, anxiety, insomnia, vitamin deficiency, confusion, hallucinations, convulsions

Designer Drugs (e.g. bath salts)


Euphoria, alertness, confusion, acute psychosis, agitation, combativeness, aggressive, violent, and self-destructive behaviors, hypertension, hyperthermia, teeth grinding, sweating, headaches, seizures, paranoia, hallucinations

Cold and clammy skin, coma, respiratory failure, possible death

Loss of appetite, agitation, irritability, tremors, panic, cramps, nausea, vomiting, chills, sweating, restlessness, severe depression



Impaired memory, slurred speech, drunken behavior, slow onset vitamin deficiency, organ damage, high blood pressure, impaired coordination, cardiomyopathy

Vomiting, respiratory depression, loss of consciousness, stroke, possible death

Trembling, anxiety, insomnia, vitamin deficiency, confusion, hallucinations, convulsions

















Adapted from U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration "Drugs of Abuse" and from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism "Alcohol's Effects on the Body"



The Office of Student Affairs