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Alcohol and Drugs

UTSA provides students with a wide range of substance abuse resources that include educational opportunities, skill development and intervention support, accompanied by regular programming promoting a safe and enjoyable campus experience. Intoxication can be seen as part of college life for many students. Alcohol is the number one substance used extensively across American college and university campuses. Keep in mind, though, that excessive use of any substance can lead to alcohol poisoning or an overdose, with potentially fatal consequences.

We are dedicated to educating students about the guidelines governing alcohol consumption at the state, local and university levels. We pledge to offer you and your friends assistance and guidance if you are struggling with issues related to alcohol abuse or addiction.

Recovery Resources and Support

If you are in need of assistance, start at the UTSA Center for Collegiate Recovery, which offers comprehensive services, including recovery development, support, assessment and substance abuse education or interventions. The goal is to provide those recovering from substance use disorders and/or other behavioral addictions with the environment necessary to maintain your recovery while receiving your education. The Wellbeing Services Recovery Resource page lists several resources available on and off campus.

Below is additional information students should consider before engaging in any type of alcohol or drug consumption. 

University Policy and Sanctions

The Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act Amendments of 1989 requires institutions of higher education to adopt and implement programs to prevent the unlawful possession, use, or distribution of illicit drugs and alcohol. Information concerning these programs must be distributed to students annually.

Per the UTSA Student Code of Conduct, a student is expected and required to

  • Obey federal, state and local laws
  • Comply with the Regents’  Rules and Regulations, university rules and regulations (including this policy), and directives issued by an administrative official of the System or the University of Texas at San Antonio in the course of their authorized duties
  • Observe standards of conduct appropriate for an academic institution

UTSA will impose at least a minimum disciplinary sanction of suspension for a specified period of time, or suspension of rights and privileges, or both, for conduct related to the use, possession or distribution of drugs prohibited by state, federal or local law. Other sanctions that may be imposed for conduct related to the unlawful use, possession or distribution of drugs or alcohol include disciplinary probation, payment for damage to or misappropriation of property, suspension of rights and privileges, suspension for a specified period of time, expulsion, or other such sanction as may be deemed appropriate under the circumstances.

Know the Law

Illegal drugs and alcohol not only pose serious health risks to those who use them, but state and federal criminal penalties for possession, sale, trafficking and illegal interstate transportation also are severe.

  • Driving while intoxicated (includes intoxication from alcohol, drugs, or both): Confinement in jail for a term of not more than 180 days nor less than 72 hours, and a fine of not more than $2,000
  • Public intoxication: Fine not to exceed $500
  • Purchase of alcohol by a minor: Fine of not less than $25 nor more than $200
  • Consumption of alcohol by a minor: Fine of not less than $25 nor more than $200
  • Possession of alcohol by a minor: Fine of not less than $25 nor more than $200
  • Sale of alcohol to a minor: Fine of not less than $100 nor more than $500 or confinement in jail for not more than 1 year, or both.
  • Possession of any controlled substance, if arrested, is a felony offense.
  • Penalties can range from as state jail felony to a first-degree felony depending on the amount of drugs in your possession.
  • Fines and jail time can range from $10,000 to $50,000 and/or 180 days to 99 years depending on the quantity of drugs in your possession.
  • The state of Texas can also suspend your license for up to six months following a conviction on any violation of the Texas Controlled Substances Act.
  • Two ounces or less: Class B misdemeanor, which could mean not more than 180 days in a county jail and/or a fine of not more than $2,000
  • More than two ounces, but less than four ounces: Class A misdemeanor, which could mean not more than one year in a county jail and/or a fine of not more than $4,000
  • Four ounces and above: Ranges from a state jail felony to an enhanced first-degree felony, depending on the amount

Many teens refrain from asking for help for fear of the consequences of underage drinking violations. Sadly, the decision not to call for help needed in a life-or-death situation can be fatal. Texas passed the 911 Lifeline Legislation in 2011. This law provides limited immunity for underage individuals who seek assistance from law enforcement or emergency services in response to an alcohol-related emergency.

Minors will not be cited for underage drinking if they follow these steps.

  • Request medical assistance because of alcohol consumption
  • Stay on scene
  • Cooperate with medical and law enforcement personnel

The Texas legislature passed the Good Samaritan Law in 2021. If you or someone with you is experiencing a suspected overdose, this law allows either party to call 911 without fear of being arrested or prosecuted.

Information on Health Risks

Information about the health risks associated with drug abuse and the misuse of alcohol is available below.

There are many factors that affect the rate of intoxication and the metabolism of alcohol. No two people process alcohol at the same rate. The presence of food in the stomach decreases the rate of absorption. Fasting (not eating) increases stomach emptying, thus increasing the rate of absorption. Alcohol mixed with water or fruit juice is absorbed slower, while alcohol mixed with a carbonated beverage is absorbed faster.

Body weight and composition are two other factors that affect these rates. Men tend to handle alcohol better than women do. This is because men are generally larger, thus have a larger blood volume, and carry less body fat. Body fat contains little water for the body to use in diluting alcohol. Men also have more of the alcohol metabolizing enzyme, alcohol dehydrogenase. The following is a generalized alcohol affect chart based on a 150-pound person, metabolizing 0.5 ounces of alcohol per hour that has eaten. Please note that 50% of the people who attain a blood alcohol level of 0.4 can die.

BAC Effect on Body

  • 0.02 Slight mood changes
  • 0.06 Lowered inhibition, impaired judgment, decreased rational decision‐making abilities.
  • 0.08 Legally drunk, deterioration of reaction time and control.
  • 0.15 Impaired balance, movement, and coordination. Difficulty standing, walking and talking.
  • 0.20 Decreased pain and sensation. Erratic emotions.
  • 0.30 Diminished reflexes. Semi‐consciousness.
  • 0.40 Loss of consciousness. Very limited reflexes. Anesthetic effects.
  • 0.50 Possible death.
  • CAUTION: Death has been documented to occur at BAC levels as low as 0.35. Remember, each person is different. Also, the absence of symptoms does not guarantee safe or low blood alcohol levels. With regular drinking, a person develops a tolerance to alcohol that will reduce the outward appearance of high blood alcohol levels.

Did you know that marijuana changes the way the brain works? Some things to consider:

  • Heavy use can have adverse effects on learning and social behavior
  • It can cause long term memory loss
  • It can cause users to become paranoid
  • It Increases heart rate
  • It can cause more damage to the hearts and lungs than tobacco
  • It makes the eyes red and can blur one’s vision
  • Marijuana IS ADDICTIVE

Prescription drugs when used under a doctor’s direction can still have side effects. Using those drugs for recreational use can have serious consequences and possibly get you arrested. Abusing prescriptions is risky behavior and can lead to serious health problems even death.

What is Prescription Drug Abuse?

  • Misusing a drug on purpose
  • Using someone else’s prescription
  • Using more of the drug than prescribed
  • Getting the drugs without a doctor’s order
  • Using a drug for reasons not prescribed

Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs:

  • Narcotics: OxyContin, Vicodin
  • Depressants: Valium, Xanax
  • Stimulants: Dexedrine, Ritalin

Fentanyl Use

Fentanyl is a powerful opioid up to 50 times stronger than heroin, and is a major contributor to accidental drug overdose deaths in Texas. It belongs to a class of drugs call opioids that are used to reduce pain and includes morphine and oxycodone.

While fentanyl is safe when taken as prescribed by a doctor to treat severe pain, it can also be produced illegally. Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids are the most common drugs involved in overdose deaths. Accidental overdoses occur more frequently due to illegally manufactured fentanyl, which is added to counterfeit pills and other substances without a person’s knowledge. These pills are made to look like medication that comes from a pharmacy, including:

  • Oxycodone
  • Vicodin
  • Percocet
  • Xanax
  • Adderall

Small amounts of fentanyl in a pill – even just one pill – can be deadly.

  • Fentanyl works by binding to the body's opioid receptors, which are found in areas of the brain that control pain and emotions. Its effects include extreme happiness, drowsiness, nausea, confusion, constipation, sedation, tolerance, addiction, respiratory depression and arrest, unconsciousness, coma and death.
  • The high potency of fentanyl greatly increases risk of overdose, especially if a person who uses drugs is unaware that a powder or pill contains it. They can underestimate the dose of opioids they are taking, resulting in overdose.
  • Naloxone is a medicine that can be given to a person to reverse a fentanyl overdose. Multiple naloxone doses might be necessary because of fentanyl’s potency.
  • Medication with behavioral therapies has been shown to be effective in treating people with an addiction to fentanyl and other opioids.

Recognizing the signs of opioid overdose can save a life. Here are some things to look for:

  • Small, constricted “pinpoint pupils”
  • Falling asleep or losing consciousness
  • Slow, weak or no breathing
  • Choking or gurgling sounds
  • Limp body
  • Cold and/or clammy skin
  • Discolored skin (especially in lips and nails)

Naloxone is medication that can reverse an opioid overdose. Narcan can quickly restore breathing to a person who is experiencing an overdose, but has no effect on a person who does not have opioids in their system. Keeping it on hand can mean the difference between life and death. It is available at pharmacies in Texas without a prescription.


*From the National Institute on Drug Abuse website; NIDA. 2021, June 1. Fentanyl Drug Facts.

** Source: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Drug Overdose Prevention.