Alcohol and Substance Abuse Policy


All students, faculty, administrators, and support staff are expected to recognize the potential for alcohol and drug abuse whenever illegal drugs or alcohol are sold, given, manufactured, and/or used and that such abuse is in conflict with the University’s purpose. To mitigate abuse, the University has established policies and regulations which adhere to applicable laws and statutes regarding such abuse. The regulations and policies governing the use of alcohol and other substances apply to all students, guests, and visitors on University property or as part of any University activity. The responsibility for knowing and abiding by the provisions of these policies rests with each individual.

Medical students are held to the same ethical and behavioral standards as physicians during both the pre-clinical and clinical years of medical school. Untreated abuse and/or dependence are unacceptable to the school and are cause for administrative action up to and including expulsion. Both for reasons of personal well-being and because of the nature of the profession, students are expected to show restraint and responsibility regarding the use of any substance. Students are also expected to seek help for alcohol or substance abuse problems if they are aware of them. Possession or use of illegal substances or unlawful use of lawful controlled substances could result in a criminal conviction, which could preclude licensure to practice.

Applicable Law

All members of the University community shall abide by the laws of the US Federal Government, the Commonwealth of Dominica and any local laws, ordinances and regulations where the student is located at anytime during which he or she is affiliated with or represents RUSM relative to the possession, consumption, distribution, transportation, manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages or products.

Conviction for the possession or distribution of illegal drugs, alcohol may result in various penalties according to the nature of the offense. The prescribed penalties under Dominican law are included in the Drug Prevention (Of Misuse Act), Chapter 40:07 of the laws of the Commonwealth of Dominica. According to this Act, ―a person found in possession of a controlled drug on any school premises is deemed to have the controlled drug for the purpose of drug trafficking unless the contrary is proved, the burden of proof being on the accused.  On summary conviction  of these charges, penalties include a fine of one hundred fifty thousand EC dollars and imprisonment for a term which may extend for fifteen years.

Prohibited Activities

RUSM strictly prohibits the unlawful manufacturing, distribution, dispensing, use or possession of alcohol, illegal drugs and controlled substances or the misuse of prescription medications/drugs at any time during which a student is affiliated with or representing RUSM. Use or possession of alcohol on RUSM premises is prohibited.

Any violation of the Policy on Substance and Alcohol Abuse is considered a violation of school conduct and is subject to the penalties of the school in addition to local, state and federal jurisdictions.


All students are expected to be familiar with and to respect local and Federal laws with regard to the use and possession of drugs or alcohol. Violation of the law could subject the student to disciplinary action up to and including expulsion and possible referral for prosecution. The University will impose sanctions for violation of the standards of behavior (on and off campus) consistent with local and federal laws, and University policies.

Violations will result in disciplinary action, up to and including expulsion, and referral for possible prosecution. Sanctions imposed will depend upon the severity and frequency of the violation. In addition to, or in lieu of discipline, violators may be required to complete an appropriate rehabilitation program.

Violation of policies specific to alcohol and other drugs are considered violations of the Code of Conduct. They include the unlawful possession, use, manufacture, sale or distribution of alcohol and other drugs. Refer to the Code of Conduct section of this Student Handbook.

Applicable sanctions include, but are not limited to, probation, probation and referral for treatment and rehabilitation (without adjudication), suspension or expulsion. The University may refer any case to the proper local, state and/or federal authorities for appropriate legal action. Individuals disciplined under the University Policy on Substance and Alcohol Abuse have the right to an appeal in accordance with the Conduct Appeals process.

Persons convicted of drug possession under US Federal law are ineligible for federal student grants and loans for up to one year after the first conviction, five years after the second; the penalty for distributing drugs is loss of benefits for five years after the first conviction, ten years after the second, permanently after the third conviction.

The University sanctions imposed under the Policy on Substance and Alcohol Abuse neither diminish nor replace the penalties available under generally applicable civil or criminal laws. Violations of University standards may also violate federal, state and local laws of the United States, England and the Commonwealth of Dominica, or other appropriate governance body.

Violators will be subject to all appropriate penalties within the jurisdiction of the offense. Within the Commonwealth of Dominica jurisdiction, drug trafficking, which includes producing, supplying and using, is punishable by fines, deportation and/or imprisonment.

Prevention & Assistance

The University recognizes alcohol and drug abuse and dependency as clinical disorders defined in the current version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV-TR) of the American Psychiatric Association.

Excessive drinking and drug use will lead to a wide variety of health problems and professional difficulties. The use of any amount of drug prescription, illicit or legal (including alcohol), will alter the chemical balance of the body. Misuse or compulsive use of alcohol and other drugs can often cause serious damage to major body organs such as the brain, stomach, lungs, liver, kidneys, heart, as well as, the immune and reproductive systems. Pregnant women put the fetus at risk for serious birth defects and complications at birth, as well as the possibility of delivering a baby with a drug dependency who may exhibit withdrawal signs. Other health problems include sleep disturbances, malnutrition, convulsions, delirium and greater risk for life threatening accidents and events such as traffic deaths and suicides. Intravenous drug users, who share needles, are at high risk for contracting HIV/AIDS. Use and/or withdrawal from a substance can also create mental problems including, but not limited to depression, anxiety, paranoia and delusions.

RUSM will facilitate substance abuse prevention through general promotion of a substance-free educational environment.   In addition to the active enforcement of the Policy on Substance and Alcohol Abuse, students will be informed of any current and subsequent changes to the Policy on Substance and Alcohol Abuse. Additionally, the medical school curriculum incorporates information on the effects that alcohol and drugs have on both mental and physical health. At RUSM, an atmosphere will exist wherein individuals with alcohol and/or drug problems are encouraged to seek help.

For information or assistance with substance and/or alcohol abuse matters, or for information on programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous, an individual can confidentially contact RUSM Counseling Services.

Modeled upon the principles of the AMA’s Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs (CEJA), RUSM offers services that are geared toward ensuring the personal health of students by providing support and avoiding punitive measures. RUSM, through Student Affairs and the Counseling Services, helps coordinate intervention services, conduct screening assessments, make appropriate referrals for comprehensive assessment and treatment, provide case management services for those with continuing problems, and encourage a collegial supportive environment.

Moreover, they help promote students’ overall health and wellness as a priority for the profession. Students are encouraged to seek guidance from these programs at the earliest sign of need. To further utilization, help will be provided through a system that remains separate albeit appreciated by the University’s disciplinary system.

Students seeking assistance for a substance abuse problem will not be subject to sanctions by the University as a result of seeking such assistance.

The use of drugs and alcohol can cause physical and psychological dependence and can interfere with memory, sensation and perception. Drugs impair the brain’s ability to synthesize information. Regular users of drugs develop tolerance and physical dependence often experienced by withdrawal symptoms. The psychological dependence occurs when the drug taking becomes central to the user’s life. Medical students who are aware of or suspect a colleague of abusing alcohol or drugs are encouraged to intervene and provide assistance, or to refer the matter to the medical education administration.

immediately placed on interim suspension and subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal or expulsion.

RUSM will facilitate substance abuse prevention through general promotion of a substance-free educational environment, by informing students on current and subsequent changes to policies on alcohol and other drugs and through advocating an atmosphere where individuals with a problem are encouraged to seek help. The medical school curriculum incorporates information on the effects that alcohol and drugs have on both mental and physical health.

A list of some drug and alcohol prevention, counseling, treatment and rehabilitation, and re-entry programs is available at RUSM Counseling Services located adjacent to Classroom 1. Any student, spouse, or faculty member can confidentially contact Counseling Services for additional referral information.

Controlled Drugs Prescription Policy

The policy for the acquisition and possession of prescription/controlled drugs by RUSM students as advised by the Health and Counseling Services of RUSM in conjunction with the Ministry of Health of Dominica is as follows: any student of RUSM who requires a prescription for a controlled substance will need to present to his or her physician adequate proof of evidence hat he or she has the diagnosed condition for which the drug is indicated as a pharmacological treatment.