Alcohol & Drug Use
You are expected to follow the law, whether your program is abroad or based in the United States. In many program destinations, it is legal to consume alcohol if you are at least 18 years old. While this may allow you to legally consume alcohol, you should remember that the over-consumption of alcohol can have serious impacts on your awareness and judgment, and thus potentially your health and safety. You should not let alcohol ruin what might be one of the best experiences of your college career. Some tips to keep in mind and follow:
- Not everyone on your program is drinking. More people than you might think don’t drink, drink very little, or are in recovery.
- If drinking, consume alcohol in moderation and know your limits. Everyone is different. Beer, wine, and liquor might have a higher alcohol content than is customary in the United States. Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to accidents and leave you more susceptible to being the victim of a crime. Set a limit for how many drinks you are going to have and stick to it. For more information, consult the CDC’s alcohol fact sheet.Know the cultural attitudes and laws regarding drinking in your host country. In many countries, having a drink is a social activity done to relax with friends, and people don’t drink with the goal of getting drunk. Indeed, locals in many countries find public drunkenness to be boorish, while in other countries – especially in Muslim-majority countries – alcohol consumption is prohibited by law. You should be sure to know and follow these laws if applicable in your host country.
- Keep a close watch over your drink, as well as your friends’ drinks. Just as in the U.S., drinks can be spiked with a knockout agent (i.e. “roofies” or date rape drugs). Make sure you get your own drink, and do not accept drinks from strangers or people you have just met. You should also be sure to look out for your friends’/classmates’ drinks when out together.
- Use the buddy system and stick with a group. When going out at night, make sure you go with at least one other person. Make sure everyone stays together, and do not leave anyone behind.
- Purchase liquor from legitimate sources and avoid homemade or counterfeit alcohol. In many countries, people brew their own alcohol, making it impossible to know the alcohol content. Bootlegged and counterfeit alcohol is unregulated and illegal, and is often sold at a much cheaper price than normal alcohol. However, such alcohol may contain toxins – such as methanol, pesticides, or even antifreeze – that, if ingested, could be extremely dangerous to your health or even deadly, and thus should be avoided at all costs. If a drink’s price seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- Don’t drink and drive. You shouldn’t be driving while on your program in the first place, however, if you are conducting personal travel and renting a vehicle, be sure not to drink and drive.
- For more tips, visit the U.S. Department of State’s Overseas Security Advisory Council’s guidance on alcohol abroad.
As a reminder, you will be held to the Duke Community Standard while on your program. Duke prohibits members of its community, both individuals and groups, from manufacturing, selling, delivering, possessing, using, or being under the influence of a controlled substance without legal authorization. Violations of the Duke Community Standard could result in your removal from your Immerse program and/or Duke.
Students participating on international programs should also see the Legal Matters and Consular Services section for more information.
As on campus, being under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol is no excuse for violating Duke policies and standards and/or local laws. Program administrators have the right to discipline you for irresponsible or unsafe behavior, whether you are under the influence of drugs and alcohol or not. Such behavior will not be tolerated, and could lead to the notification of your families, your expulsion from your study away program and, if warranted, Duke or your home institution. Students are ultimately responsible for their behavior and any misconduct and/or legal implications that stem from their consumption of drugs or alcohol.