Alcohol and Drug Abuse

OCC is committed to an environment which supports the academic success and health of our students. Alcohol abuse or the use of illicit drugs may be harmful to the user and may be harmful to the educational environment, an environment which must be conducive to learning.

Besides the health risks associated with the use of illicit drugs or alcohol abuse, there are significant legal penalties. Not only are users/abusers affected, but those who affiliate with users or abusers can be negatively affected as well.

The information in this brochure will summarize and highlight the important facts concerning the legal ramifications and health risks associated with illicit drug and alcohol abuse. Information on symptoms and referral/assistance is also provided.

Legal Issues and College Policy

OCC Student Conduct Regulations specifically prohibit the use of illicit drugs. These regulations are printed in the Student Handbook – see section on Prohibited Action – "the illegal possession, use, sale or transfer of any controlled substance." Alcohol consumption by those under the age of 21 is not allowed -"the use, sale, transfer or possessions of alcoholic beverages, except when express authorization has been granted". There are several conduct regulations which could apply to persons who come on campus after they have been involved with alcohol abuse (i.e., obstruction or disruption of College activity). There are a number of disciplinary sanctions for violations of the conduct regulations which include sus- pension or expulsion.

It is important to note that illegal use of drugs and alcohol are serious crimes under State and Federal laws. Articles 220 and 221 of the New York State Penal Law are directly aimed at unlawful traffic in mind-affecting drugs. They are compatible with the Public Health Law and the provisions of the latter are often cross-referenced in the Penal Law sections that deal with different drugs. Articles 220 and 221 set criminal penalties for possession or sale of some drugs considered potentially harmful or subject to abuse. Penalties can include both fines and prison sentences. The seriousness of the offense and penalty imposed upon conviction depend upon the individual drug and amount held or sold. It is noteworthy that a gift of drugs is treated as a sale under the law.

New York State Alcohol Beverage Control law sets twenty-one (21) as the minimum age to purchase or possess any alcoholic beverage. Parts of that law include:

  • Persons under 21 found possessing alcohol may be given a maximum fine of $50.
  • Persons convicted for fraudulently using a driver’s license to buy or attempt to buy alcohol may have their driver’s licenses suspended up to 90 days.
  • Persons convicted of buying alcohol through fraudulent means face a possible $100 fine and/or may be required to work up to 30 hours of community service work.
  • Persons convicted of selling, giving or serving alcohol to persons under 21 years of age face significant fines.

Health Risks Associated with Drug Abuse

Risks associated with substance abuse cannot be easily summarized, but the information that follows should give the reader an appreciation of the severity of these risks.

Substance abuse is usually acute or chronic. An acute problem results from a single episode of drug/alcohol use such as sudden heart failure (cocaine use), an automobile accident with personal injuries or misbehaviors with legal ramifications. While under the influence of alcohol or drugs, rational decision-making may indeed be altered which can result in many unwanted outcomes such as unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted disease, violence, and rape. Substance abuse by anyone can cause unwanted and unnecessary acute problems.

Chronic problems result from long-term habits of abuse of alcohol or drugs. It is typical for individuals with chronic problems to hide or deny the existence of a problem. In most cases, an individual’s ability to perform any task is diminished which negatively affects one’s relationships, ability to work and overall performance in life. Substance abuse creates changes in one’s life that are very gradual and many times the negative affects go unnoticed by the abuser and those around him or her. Addiction is a disease that is not easily detected in the early stages.

Symptoms of Addiction Include

  • Drinking or getting high for relief
  • Increased tolerance
  • Feeling guilt or remorse (as a result of behavior while under the influence)
  • Negative attitudes or blaming others for problems
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Complaints from family/friends about drinking or drug use
  • Decline in work performance
  • Inability to remember what happened when drinking (blackouts)

Counseling, Treatment, and Rehabilitation Programs

If you or a friend have a problem (or suspect a problem) with alcohol or drug abuse, there are several ways you may seek assistance or support. OCC has a number of counselors who can assist students who have concerns with alcohol or drug abuse. We want students to feel free to contact the Counseling Center.