Drug and Alcohol Policy

Washington University is committed to maintaining a safe and healthful environment for members of the University community by promoting a drug-free environment as well as one free of the abuse of alcohol. Violations of this policy will be handled according to existing policies and procedures concerning the conduct of faculty, staff and students.

This policy is adopted in accordance with the Drug-Free Workplace Act and the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act.

Standards of Conduct

Washington University strictly prohibits the unlawful manufacture, sale, distribution, dispensation, possession or use of controlled substances or alcohol on University property or as a part of any University activity. All faculty, staff and students must comply with this policy as a condition of their employment or enrollment. Faculty and staff members are prohibited from reporting to work under the influence of alcohol, chemicals, or drugs, including legally obtained prescription drugs, which impair one’s ability to perform normal work activities. All faculty and staff members must notify their immediate supervisor(s) within five (5) days of any criminal drug statute conviction for a violation occurring in the workplace or in the conduct of University business.


Violations of the standards of conduct will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis following the policies and procedures applicable to, as appropriate, faculty, staff or students. Sanctions may include, among other things, reprimand, warning, suspension, probation, expulsion or termination. Referral to an appropriate assistance or rehabilitation program also may be appropriate. Referral for prosecution will occur for serious violations.

The Drug-Free Workplace Act requires the University: (1) within 10 days after receiving notice that an employee has been convicted of any criminal drug statute violation occurring in the workplace or in the conduct of University business, to notify appropriate government agencies of such conviction; and (2) within 30 days after receiving such notice, to take appropriate personnel action against such employee up to and including termination and/or to require the employee to satisfactorily participate in a drug abuse assistance or rehabilitation program.

Drug and Alcohol Counseling, Treatment or Rehabilitation or Re-Entry Programs

Early recognition and treatment of drug or alcohol abuse are important for successful rehabilitation, and for reduced personal, family and social disruption. Washington University encourages the earliest possible diagnosis and treatment for drug and alcohol abuse, however, the decision to seek diagnosis and accept treatment for drug or alcohol abuse is the responsibility of the individual.

The University encourages faculty, staff and students to seek assistance in dealing with a substance abuse problem, or those problems of a family member, by contacting available resources. University resources include Student Health Services (Danforth Campus, 314-935-6666); Student and Employee Health (School of Medicine, 314-362-3523), the Psychological Service Center (314-935-6555), the Department of Psychiatry (314-362-7002), and the Employee Assistance Program (844-365-4587 – toll-free).

Numerous non-University counseling programs exist in the St. Louis metropolitan area. Many programs advertise extensively in local media. Consultation with one’s personal physician is advised prior to self-referral to such non-University programs. For further information regarding referral to such programs, contact Student Health Services, the School of Medicine Student and Employee Health, or your private physician.

Health Risks

Drugs: A detailed description of the health risks associated with abuse of controlled substances is provided in the chart, Drug Uses and Effects, published by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Drug Enforcement Administration as found in Appendix A (PDF).

Alcohol: Abuse of alcohol can produce severe health risks, including death. Alcohol consumption causes a number of marked changes in behavior. Even low doses significantly impair the judgment and coordination required to drive a car safely, increasing the likelihood that the driver will be involved in an accident. Low-to-moderate doses of alcohol also increase the incidence of a variety of aggressive acts, including spouse and child abuse. Moderate-to-high doses of alcohol cause marked impairments in higher mental functions, severely altering a person’s ability to learn and remember information. Very high doses cause respiratory depression and death. If combined with other depressants of the central nervous system, much lower doses of alcohol will produce the effects just described.

Repeated use of alcohol can lead to dependence. Sudden cessation of alcohol intake is likely to produce withdrawal symptoms, including severe anxiety, tremors, hallucinations, and convulsions. Alcohol withdrawal can be life threatening. Long-term consumption of large quantities of alcohol, particularly when combined with poor nutrition, can also lead to permanent damage to vital organs such as the brain and the liver.

Women who drink alcohol during pregnancy may give birth to infants with fetal alcohol syndrome. These infants have irreversible physical abnormalities and mental retardation. In addition, research indicated that children of alcoholic parents are at greater risk than other youngsters of becoming alcoholics.

Legal Sanctions

Drugs: The manufacture, possession, sale, distribution, and use of controlled substances are prohibited by federal, state and local law; punishments range from fines to life imprisonment.

Section 195.214 of the Missouri statutes makes it a class A felony to distribute or deliver controlled substances on or near University property. Persons convicted of this offense can be sentenced to imprisonment for not less than 10 years.

The Federal Controlled Substances Act prohibits the knowing, intentional, and unauthorized manufacture, distribution, or dispensing of any controlled substance or the possession of any controlled substance with intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense. A detailed description of the penalties associated with illegal drug trafficking is provided in the chart, Federal Trafficking Penalties, published by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Drug Enforcement Administration as found in Appendix B (PDF).

Alcohol: Missouri’s Liquor Control Law makes it illegal, among other things, for a person under the age of 21 years to purchase, attempt to purchase, or possess any intoxicating liquor (R.S.Mo. Section 311.325). Violation of this provision can result in a fine between $50 and $1000 and/or imprisonment for a maximum term of one year. County and municipality ordinances contain similar prohibitions and sanctions.

Loss of Workers’ Compensation Benefits

The Missouri Workers’ Compensation Act requires the forfeiture of benefits or compensation otherwise payable to an employee when the use of alcohol or non-prescribed controlled drugs is the proximate cause of the employee’s injury. At a minimum, the Act provides for a reduction in benefits or compensation when the employee is injured while using alcohol or non-prescribed controlled drugs.

Testing Requirement for Commercial Drivers Licenses (CDLs)

To meet requirements of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), the University has established a drug and alcohol testing program for its employees who are drivers of its commercial motor vehicles requiring commercial drivers licenses (CDLs), and who perform safety-sensitive functions, e.g., operate a vehicle requiring the display of hazardous material placards. This drug and alcohol testing program also applies to applicants selected for hire for designated safety-sensitive positions. Participation in the drug and alcohol testing program is a condition of employment for these positions.

This program requires pre-employment drug testing as well as DOT mandated random testing of current employees who are required to have CDLs.

Questions regarding this requirement may be directed to the Designated Employee Representative for this program or to Human Resources.

Accidents Involving University-Owned Vehicles

The university reserves the right to require that an employee undergo immediate drug and/or alcohol testing if the employee is involved in a vehicular accident while driving a university-owned vehicle.


When the university has reasonable grounds to suspect that an employee unlawfully manufactured, distributed, possessed or used controlled substances, alcohol or drug paraphernalia on university property or at any of its activities, the university reserves the right to inspect the employee’s locker, desk, or other university property under the control of the employee.

Updated April 2012