Alcohol and Substance Abuse Policy

Overview

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 regulations and policies governing the use of alcohol and other substances to all students, guests, and visitors on University property or as part of any University activity.  Additionally, these regulations and policies govern the use of alcohol and other substances for off campus activities. The responsibilityfor 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 disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.  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, state and any local laws, ordinances and regulations where the student is located at any time 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 distributionof illegal drugs, alcohol may result in various penalties according to the nature of the offense.Please note that even where otherwise permitted under federal, state, and local laws, marijuana use or possession as a student is prohibited.

 

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. Please note that even where otherwise permitted under federal, state, and local law, marijuana use, possession, or influence on University premises, at University events, or that adversely affects the RUSM community, is prohibited.

 

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

 

Penalties/Sanctions

All students are expected to be familiar with and to adhere to federal, state, and local laws and university policies with regard to the use and possession of drugs or alcohol.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 dismissal, 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.

 

Applicable sanctions include, but are not limited to, probation, probation and referral for treatment and rehabilitation (without adjudication), suspension, or non-academic dismissal.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 applicable University grievance procedures.

 

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, or other appropriate governance body. Violators will be subject to all appropriate penalties within the jurisdiction of the offense.

 

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-5) 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.

 

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.

 

RUSM will facilitate substance abuse prevention through general promotion of a substance-freeeducational 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. Consideration will be given to students who identify themselves and are seeking assistance for a substance abuse problem proactively and not as a result of an identified violation or random screening.

 

If a student reports to school or to a clinical setting under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they will be immediately suspended and subject to additional disciplinary action including dismissal from the University.

 

A list of some drug and alcohol prevention, counseling, treatment and rehabilitation, and re-entry programs is available at RUSM Counseling Services. 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 Counseling Services of RUSM in conjunction with federal, state, and local laws 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 or evidence that he or she has the diagnosed condition for which the drug is indicated as a pharmacological treatment.

 

DRUG TESTING

RUSM students may be selected for a random drug screening at any time throughout their enrollment. The practice of random drug testing was established at RUSM to encourage student engagement in responsible lifestyle choices for not only their personal wellbeing but for the public in which they serve. As with physicians, students are expected to show restraint regarding the use of any substance and seek help for any alcohol or substance abuse problems.

 

Any actions that violate the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Policy and Controlled Drugs Prescription Policy may result in disciplinary action including sanctions outlined in the Code of Conduct.Additionally, 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.

 

Types of Testing

 

Collection Process

  1. The student will receive a notification from the Conduct Administrator of selection for drug testing and will need to report to a collection/laboratory site designated by the University. Students are required to report to the designated laboratory within 48 hours of the date of the notification.
  2. To ensure the integrity of the process, students must comply with all collection procedures of the designated laboratory (i.e. provide identification, completion of forms, no items permitted in testing area).Failure to comply with the directives, policies, and procedures of the designated laboratory will result in disciplinary action.
  3. RUSM will be responsible for any and all lab cost related with the random testing.
  4. A copy of the results from the designated laboratory will be sent to the University. The Conduct Administrator will notify the student of their results and next steps if necessary.
    1. Negative Test – the student will be notified of their negative test results and clearance.
    2. Positive Test – the Medical Review Officer (MRO) of the respective collection/laboratory site will be notified to investigate for other factors that may contribute to the “non-negative” results (i.e. prescribed medication).

 

Positive Test Verification

If the initial specimen result is positive, it will be sent for confirmation testing. If the results remain positive, the results will be sent to the MRO of the respective collection/laboratory site. The MRO will review any disclosed medications or prescriptions submitted by the student prior to the initial test. If the information provided confirms the positive results, the MRO will report it as a negative. If the information provided is not sufficient to override the positive results, the positive results will remain as is and be reported out to the Conduct Administrator. The Conduct Administrator will notify the student of the next steps. Please see “Results of a Positive Test” for more information.

 

Results of a Positive Test

Any student receiving a verified positive test will be placed on interim suspension immediately and referred to the conduct administrator for further disciplinary action, up to and including, dismissal from RUSM.

 

Drug Testing Expenses

RUSM will be responsible for any and all lab cost related with the random and probable cause drug testing. Students are responsible for any and all cost related to compliance drug testing and participation in any rehabilitation programs as recommended.

 

Confidentiality

RUSM will treat all information obtained throughout this process as confidential and will ensure access to this information is given to individuals who have a need to know. Please note this information will remain separate from students’ academic record except when disciplinary action occurs.
RUSM may be called upon by the NRMP, State Medical Boards, ECFMG, FCVS, Government Agencies, and Employers to report disciplinary action that may have occurred during the course of your medical education.