Policies on Alcohol and Other Drugs

In compliance with the federal Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act, this website contains the Georgetown policies and applicable laws and penalties related to the use, possession and distribution of alcohol and other drugs; information about the risks and effects of drug and alcohol use and dependence; and resources to assist students, faculty and staff who may be having a problem with alcohol or drugs. You are encouraged to read this page in its entirety, as each member of the campus community is responsible for complying with Georgetown policy and applicable laws.

Georgetown University Policies on Alcohol and Other Drugs

Federal and D.C. Drug and Alcohol Laws and Penalties

Risks and Health Effects of Alcohol and Other Drugs

Campus and Community Resources for Students, Faculty and Staff


Georgetown University Policies on Alcohol and Other Drugs

For all members of the Georgetown community:

Georgetown University’s policies on alcohol and other drugs reflect the requirements of federal and D.C. law and impose additional sanctions and penalties for violations by students, faculty, and staff.,

Alcoholic Beverages

No person under age 21 shall drink, possess, purchase or attempt to purchase an alcoholic beverage. Likewise, no person, regardless of age, shall serve, offer, give, purchase, provide or in any way make available alcoholic beverages to any persons who are under 21. Persons who are 21 or older may possess, serve and consume alcohol only in University facilities where permitted and only when they have first received any permissions and licenses required under University policy and applicable law.


The possession, use, manufacture and/or distribution of illegal drugs, as defined under D.C. and federal law, are prohibited at all times on University property, in University vehicles, or in connection with any University activity or business.


Employees and students who violate the University’s policies will be subject to disciplinary action by the University, which may include suspension, referral for prosecution, permanent separation from the University, or any action the University deems appropriate.,

For Students:

University policies on alcohol and other drugs that are particular to Main Campus students may be found within the Code of Student Conduct. Of particular note are the University regulations on alcoholic beverages in student areas, including on-campus housing, off-campus houses and apartments, and offices and clubrooms; policies on parties, kegs, and party notification; policies on serving alcohol at events; and sanctions for violations of the alcohol and drug policies, which include fines, residence hall suspension, parental notification, move from an apartment into a traditional residence hall, recommendation for counseling or rehabilitation, disciplinary probation, suspension, and dismissal from the University.

Medical Center students should refer to the Code of Professionalism in the School of Medicine Student Handbook and Law Center students should refer to the Georgetown Law Conduct Policies, the Georgetown Law Alcohol Policy Addendum for Student Sponsored Events, and the Gewirz Resident Alcohol Policy for information specific to their campuses.

For Faculty and Staff:

In addition to the policies governing all members of the Georgetown community, all University employees are governed by the Drug-Free Workplace Policy (Staff – in the HR Policies Manual) (Faculty – in the Faculty Handbook), which states that it is a condition of continued employment that all employees must be drug-free in the workplace.  Staff and Academic Administrative Professionals are also bound by the Professional Conduct Policy, which states that being under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs and/or possessing or selling illegal drugs when reporting to work, while on the job, or in connection with carrying out job responsibilities are strictly prohibited. Additionally, employees who operate motor vehicles must comply with the Human Resources policy on Controlled Substance and Alcohol Use Prohibition and Testing for Motor Vehicle Operators

Violations of these policies by University faculty or staff will be referred to the appropriate department head or supervisor who, in accordance with University policies and procedures, will determine the course of action necessary.

Faculty and staff should also visit the website of the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program for additional information.


Federal and D.C. Drug and Alcohol Laws and Penalties

Penalties for Illegal Possession or Distribution of Alcohol under D.C. Law

In the District of Columbia,

It is unlawful to consume or possess an alcoholic beverage in an open container in a public area or place of business not licensed to sell alcoholic beverages. Violations of this provision may result in a fine of up to $500 and/or a prison term of up to 60 days (D.C. Code § 25-1001).

Persons under age 21 are prohibited from possessing, drinking, purchasing or attempting to purchase an alcoholic beverage. Persons are also prohibited from falsely representing their age in an attempt to purchase alcohol or enter an establishment where alcohol is served. Violations of this law may result in a fine of up to $1,000 and suspension of driving privileges for up to one year (D.C. Code § 25-1002).

Persons who purchase, sell or in any other way deliver alcoholic beverages to persons under 21 may be fined up to $5,000 and/or imprisoned for up to one year (D.C. Code §§ 25-781, 25-785).

Penalties for Illegal Possession or Distribution of Illegal Drugs under D.C. Law

In the District of Columbia,

Intentional possession of a controlled substance (other than pursuant to a valid prescription), is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and/or 180 days’ imprisonment. The intentional manufacture, distribution, or possession with intent to manufacture or distribute a controlled substance is punishable by prison terms up to 30 years and/or fines up to $75,000 (D.C. Code § 48-904.01). Controlled substances are defined in D.C. Code § 48-901.02.

Persons over age 21 who are found to have distributed a controlled substance to anyone under age 18 are subject to even heavier penalties, including fines up to $125,000 and imprisonment for up to 60 years (D.C. Code § 48-904.06).

Anyone found to have enlisted or encouraged an individual under age 18 to distribute or sell any controlled substance is subject to an additional fine of up to $50,000 and an additional prison term of up 20 years (D.C. Code § 48-904.07).

A finding that an individual has attempted or conspired to commit any of these offenses subjects the individual to the same fines and terms of imprisonment as if the crime were actually committed (D.C. Code § 48-904.09). 

The manufacture or sale of drug paraphernalia to prepare or use illegal controlled substances is prohibited and punishable by fines up to $12,500 fine and/or a prison term of up to 2 years.  The use or possession with intent to use of drug paraphernalia is punishable by a fine up to $250 and/or a prison term of up to 30 days.  (D.C. Code §§ 48-1101, 48-1103).

Penalties for Illegal Possession or Distribution of Illegal Drugs under Federal Law

It is a violation of federal law to possess, manufacture, or distribute a controlled substance as defined by federal law. A student or employee found guilty of possessing a controlled substance in violation of federal law may be subject to some or all of the following sanctions:

First conviction: Up to one year imprisonment and a fine of at least $1,000, or both.
With one prior drug conviction: At least 15 days in prison, not to exceed two years and fined at least $2,500, or both.

After two or more prior drug convictions: At least 90 days in prison, not to exceed three years, and/or a fine of at least $5,000 (21 U.S.C. § 844(a)).

Federal law may also require forfeiture of property used to possess or to facilitate possession of a controlled substance (21 U.S.C. § 881(a)(7); forfeiture of vehicles, boats, aircraft or any other conveyance used to transport or conceal a controlled substance (21 U.S.C. § 881(a)(4)); and civil fines of up to $10,000 (21 U.S.C. § 844a).

Upon a drug conviction, the federal government may also deny or revoke federal benefits, such as student loans, grants, contracts, and professional and commercial licenses, for up to one year for first offense, and up to five years for second and subsequent offenses, (21 U.S.C. § 853a).

Persons convicted for the manufacture and/or distribution of controlled substances are subject to increased fines, jail time, and revocation of federal benefits (21 U.S.C. §§ 841, 862). 

Health Effects of Alcohol and Other Drugs

The use and abuse of drugs and alcohol carry dangerous physical, emotional and psychological consequences including dependence, impaired judgment and coordination, increased aggression and violence, memory and speech problems, feelings of panic, confusion, paranoia and loss of control, permanent damage to vital organs, and death. Please read below for some of the major effects of drug and alcohol use and refer to the resources provided in the next section for more information.


  • Impairs judgment and coordination
  • Hinders ability to learn and remember information
  • Increases aggression and abusive acts
  • High doses cause dependence, respiratory depression or death
  • Withdrawal causes anxiety, nausea, hallucinations and convulsions
  • Damages vital organs, such as the liver, permanently
  • May lead to fetal alcohol syndrome when consumed by pregnant women

Cannabis (Marijuana)

  • Reduces short-term memory and comprehension
  • Produces paranoia and psychosis
  • Damages lungs and respiratory system with inhalation of carcinogenic smoke
  • Alters sense of time
  • Dangerously increases heart rate

Hallucinogens (PCP, LSD)

  • Cause sense of distance and space estrangement, illusions and hallucinations
  • Create persistent memory problems and speech difficulties
  • Induce violent episodes that result in self-inflicted injuries
  • Produce negative psychological effects such as panic, confusion, suspicion, anxiety and loss of control
  • Result in side effects such as dizziness, weakness, tremor nausea and drowsiness

Narcotics (Codeine, morphine, opium, heroin)

  • Produce feelings of euphoria followed by drowsiness, nausea and vomiting
  • Create constricted pupils, watery eyes and itching
  • Can be deadly in overdose, causing shallow breathing, clammy skin, convulsions and death
  • Promote the transmission of AIDS, endocarditis and hepatitis through use of unsterilized syringes


  • Causes constant stuffy, runny nose and possible perforated nasal septum
  • Produces dilated pupils and elevated blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate and body temperature, followed by depression
  • Is extremely addictive and can cause delirium, hallucinations, blurred vision, severe chest pain, muscle spasms, convulsions and death

Designer Drugs (Ecstasy)

  • Are hundreds of times stronger than the drugs they’re designed to imitate
  • Cause symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease including tremors, drooling, impaired speech
  • Can cause brain damage with as little as one dose

Stimulants (Speed, crystal meth, Ritalin)

  • Produce elevated blood pressure and heart rates, decreased appetite, perspiration, headache, blurred vision, dizziness, sleeplessness and anxiety
  • Cause physical collapse in high doses
  • Can result in amphetamine psychosis in long-term users, which includes hallucinations, delusions and paranoia

Inhalants (Whippets, laughing gas, buzz bombs)

  • Are mixtures of volatile substances, which makes it difficult to be specific about effects
  • Can cause nausea, sneezing, coughing, nose bleeds, fatigue, lack of coordination, loss of appetite and involuntary passing of urine and feces
  • May result in hepatitis, brain damage, nervous system damage, weight loss, fatigue, electrolyte imbalance and muscle weakness with long-term use

Depressants (Downers, Valium, quaaludes)

  • Have similar effects to alcohol
  • Cause calmness in small amounts, slurred speech and staggering gait in large doses
  • Can cause dependence with serious withdrawal symptoms such as restlessness, insomnia, convulsions and death

Campus and Community Resources for Students, Faculty and Staff

Campus Resources

If alcohol or drug abuse is a problem for you or someone you care about, Georgetown has a number of on-campus resources that provide information, counseling and support for those struggling with these issues.

For Students:

Health Education Services
Poulton Hall, Suite 101
Patrick Kilcarr, PhD 202-687-8944 http://studenthealth.georgetown.edu/health-promotion/

Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS)
Main campus: Back of Darnall Hall
Law Center: Gewirz Student Center, Room 110
School of Continuing Studies:  640 Massachusetts Ave., Room 206
During business hours:  202-687-6985
After-hours emergencies:  202-444-PAGE (7243) (Ask to speak to on-call clinician)  http://studenthealth.georgetown.edu/mental-health/

Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services Program
Georgetown University Main Hospital
Department of Psychiatry
(855) 546-0168  

For Faculty and Staff:

Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSAP)
1300A 36th Street

Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services Program
Georgetown University Main Hospital
Department of Psychiatry
(855) 546-0168  

Community Resources and Hotlines:

Alcoholics Anonymous
202-966-9115 in DC; 703-876-6166 in VA

202-635-2023 in DC and MD; 703-764-0476 in VA
Maryland Al-Anon/Alateen
NOVA Al-Anon/Alateen

Narcotics Anonymous
202-399-5316 or 800-543-4670

Arlington County Alcohol & Drug Abuse Program
2120 Washington Blvd. Arlington, VA 22204

Fairfax County Drug & Alcohol Referral Services
Main: 703-383-8500
Emergency: 703-573-5679
Detox: 703-502-7000 (24/7)

For Law Students only:

DC Bar Lawyer Assistance Program