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Traumatic events such as lost experiences during this shutdown and social distancing are especially difficult.


Triggers for substance abuse include:

  • Uncertainty, stress, boredom

  • Lack of routine - makes it easier to act like it’s the weekend every day

  • Economic dislocation

  • Job loss

  • Fear of death by disease of yourself or loved ones

  • Limited access to support systems such as friends, neighbors, therapists, church, family and recovery groups


Health Risks of Alcohol and Substance Abuse:

Alcohol impairs judgment and coordination, and in many persons causes a greater likelihood of aggressive and/or

violent behavior. Even short-term use may cause respiratory depression and, when consumed by pregnant women, may cause irreversible physical and mental abnormalities in newborns (fetal alcohol syndrome) or even death. Long-term use may lead to irreversible physical and mental impairment, including liver disease, heart disease, cancer, ulcers, gastritis, delirium tremens, and pancreatitis. Alcohol interacts negatively with more than 150 medications. Driving while under the influence of alcohol is particularly dangerous and is a major cause of traffic-related deaths.

Drinking too much can weaken your immune system, making your body a much easier target for disease. Chronic drinkers are more likely to contract diseases like pneumonia and tuberculosis than people who do not drink too much.

Binge drinking reduces your body’s ability to ward off infections – even up to 24 hours after getting drunk.


Barbiturates (depressants, Quaaludes, Valium, Xanax, etc.) depress central nervous, cardiovascular, and respiratory

functions. Barbiturate use may lower blood pressure, slow reactions, and distort reality. Convulsions, coma, and death are outcomes associated with barbiturate use. Combining the consumption of barbiturates with alcohol or 3.2 beer is especially dangerous.


Cocaine/Crack are powerful central nervous system stimulants that constrict blood vessels, dilate pupils, increase blood pressure, and elevate heart rate. Cocaine use may induce restlessness, irritability, anxiety, paranoia, seizures, cardiac arrest, respiratory failure, and death. Cocaine is extremely addictive, both psychologically and physically. Great risk exists whether cocaine is ingested by inhalation (snorting), injection, or smoking., Compulsive cocaine use may develop even more rapidly if the substance is smoked, and smoking crack cocaine can produce particularly aggressive paranoid behavior in users.


Date Rape Drugs (Rohypnol, roofies, GBH, Ketamine, etc.) may incapacitate a person, particularly when used with

alcohol. Rohypnol and GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate) are characterized as “date rape” drugs because they

incapacitate victims, thereby increasing vulnerability to sexual assault and other crimes. Sedation, relaxation, and amnesia are associated with Rohypnol use. Rohypnol may be psychologically and physically addictive and can cause death if mixed with alcohol or other depressants. GHB usage may result in coma and seizures and, when combined with methamphetamine, appears to cause an increased risk of seizure. Combining use with other drugs such as alcohol can result in nausea and difficulty in breathing. GHB may also produce withdrawal effects, including insomnia, anxiety, tremors, and sweating. Ketamine may induce feelings of near-death experiences.


Ecstasy (S, Adam, MDMA, XTC, etc.) has amphetamine-like and hallucinogenic properties. Its chemical structure is

similar to other synthetic drugs known to cause brain damage. Ecstasy use may cause psychological difficulties, including confusion, depression, sleep problems, drug craving, severe anxiety, paranoia, and even psychotic episodes. Similar difficulties may occur weeks after taking MDMA. Physical symptoms such as increases in heart rate and blood pressure may result from the use of such substances. Other physical symptoms include muscle tension, blurred vision, nausea, rapid eye movement, and involuntary teeth clenching.


Hallucinogens (acid, PCP, LSD, psilocybin [mushrooms]) are among the most potent mood-changing chemicals and

may produce unpredictable effects that may impair coordination, perception, and cognition. Some LSD users experience flashbacks, often without warning, with the user having taken the drug again. Violence, paranoia, delusions, hallucinations, convulsions, coma, cardiac arrest, and respiratory failure may result from hallucinogen use.


Marijuana (pot, grass, hash, cannabis Sativa, etc.) may impair memory, attention, coordination, and learning ability.

Short term effects of smoking marijuana may include problems with memory, learning, distorted perception, difficulty in thinking, and problem-solving, loss of coordination, increased heart rate, anxiety, and panic attacks. Persons who smoke marijuana regularly may have many of the same respiratory problems as tobacco smokers, including daily cough and phlegm, chronic bronchitis, and more frequent chest colds. Because users of marijuana

deeply inhale and hold marijuana smoke in their lungs, they incur a higher risk of getting lung cancer.


Narcotics (heroin, pain medication [Demerol, Percodan, Lortab, etc.]) may produce temporary euphoria followed by

depression, drowsiness, cognitive impairment, and vomiting. Narcotic use may cause convulsions, coma, and death. Tolerance and dependence tend to develop rapidly. Using contaminated syringes to inject drugs may result in contracting HIV and other infectious diseases such as hepatitis.


Nicotine (tobacco, cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, nicotine chewing gum, and patches) is highly addictive and, according to the Surgeon General, is a major cause of stroke and is the third leading cause of death in the United States. Over time, higher levels of nicotine must be consumed to achieve the same effect. Nicotine consumption results in central nervous system sedation and, after initial activation, may cause drowsiness and depression. If women smoke cigarettes and also take oral contraceptives, they are more prone to cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases than are other smokers. Pregnant women who smoke cigarettes run an increased risk of having stillborn or premature infants or infants with low birth weight.


Steroids (anabolic-androgenic) may permanently damage the liver, cardiovascular, and reproductive systems. Possible side effects include liver tumors, cancer, jaundice, fluid retention, and hypertension. In men, steroids may cause shrinking of testicles, reduced sperm count, infertility, baldness, breast development and increased risk for prostate cancer. In women, steroid use may cause the growth of facial hair, male-pattern baldness, menstrual changes, enlarged clitoris, and deepened voice.


Stimulants (amphetamine, methamphetamine, speed, crystal, crank, Ritalin, caffeine, various over-the-counter

stimulants and diet aids) are powerful central nervous system stimulants that may increase agitation, physical activity, and anxiety. Stimulants may decrease appetite, dilate pupils, and cause sleeplessness. Dizziness, higher blood pressure, paranoia, mood disturbance, hallucination, dependence, convulsions, and death due to stroke or heart failure may also result from use.


References: National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health,

Oklahoma State University seeks to encourage and sustain an academic environment that respects individual freedoms and promotes the health, safety, and welfare of its students, faculty, staff, and visitors. These participants are expected to know and follow the applicable laws and all university rules and regulations/policies. Each person is responsible for his/her behavior.


Alcohol/Drug Treatment Resources

  • Center for Substance Abuse Treatment Information and Referral Line 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

  • Cocaine Helpline 1-800-COCAINE (262-2563)

  • National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Hope Line 1-800-622-2255, 24 hours a day

  • National Institute on Drug Abuse National Institute of Health 888-NIH-NIDA (toll-free)

  • Reach-Out Hotline 1-800-522-9054 Alcohol, drug, domestic violence, sexual assault, rape crisis, intervention, and mental health referral.

  • OSU Alcohol and Substance Abuse Center (405) 744-2818 or (405) 744-5458

  • Reach-Out Hotline 1-800-522-9054

Emergency Contacts

  • 911

  • Call SAM, 1-855-225-2726 (Student Assistance by Mercy)

  • OSU Police, 405-744-6523

  • Oklahoma Mental Health & Substance Abuse Crisis Line, 800-566-1343

  • Grand Lake Mental Health Center - offices in Stillwater can get you set up for services without having to see you in person. They can drop off an iPad at your home to connect your family to face-to-face counseling services whenever you need them. They can also provide counseling services over the phone and can get you set up with a medication appointment within 2-weeks of starting services. To start services or for more information, visit or call 918-273-1841. Evenings and weekends 1-800-722-361


Directory of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Treatment Centers in Oklahoma

Substance Abuse and Mental health Services Administration (SAMHSA) SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline is a 24/7, 365-day-a-year, national hotline dedicated to providing immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster. This toll-free, multilingual, and confidential crisis support service is available to all residents in the United States and its territories. Stress, anxiety, and other depression-like symptoms are common reactions after a disaster. Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.

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