Drugs and Alcohol

The policy statement on drugs and alcohol is designed to address the University’s concerns about substance abuse and to ensure that the Harvard community complies with the federal Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 (the “Drug-Free Workplace Act”) and the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act Amendments of 1989 (the “Drug-Free Schools Act”).

The unlawful possession, use, or distribution of controlled substances or alcohol is prohibited in or on Harvard premises, in vehicles provided by Harvard, at any worksite or location at which University duties are being performed by Harvard employees or students, or as part of any of Harvard’s activities. Common examples of controlled substances, as defined by law, are cocaine, marijuana, and heroin. The University will take disciplinary action against violators, consistent with federal, state, and local laws. Such action may include requiring satisfactory participation in a substance-use-disorder treatment, counseling, or education program as a condition of reinstatement or continuation with Harvard; suspension; and referral for prosecution. Although Massachusetts law now permits adults age 21 or older to possess and consume marijuana under certain circumstances, federal law prohibits the possession, use, or distribution of marijuana, including for medical purposes, on Harvard property or as part of a Harvard activity. Thus, even if the possession or use of marijuana would be permitted under Massachusetts law, it remains prohibited on campus.

Additionally, the misuse of prescription drugs (sharing, buying, or using in a manner different than that prescribed) is a violation of University policy.

Because of the considerable health risks involved in drug and alcohol use, resources are available to assist the Harvard community in dealing with drug and alcohol use disorders. The following are all strictly confidential services:

  • The medical staff at Harvard University Health Services (HUHS) provides diagnosis and treatment recommendations. Students should contact their primary care physician or nurse practitioner’s office to make an appointment. Students who have not yet selected a primary care clinician should call medical area health services at 617-432-1370 (Longwood campus) or 617-495-5711 (Cambridge area) for assistance and scheduling.
  • For immediate care of acute problems, the HUHS Acute Treatment Emergency Treatment Line in Cambridge is available 24 hours a day at 617-495-2138. On evenings, weekends, and holidays, HUHS After-Hours urgent care is available at the HUHS Smith Campus Center Clinic, 75 Mount Auburn Street, Cambridge, on the basement level.
  • Alcoholism is a chronic medical disease that can cause emotional and social problems. The HUHS Mental Health Service staff is available to discuss such concerns and provide referrals as needed. Call the Longwood campus branch of HUHS at 617-432-1370 or the Cambridge mental health staff at 617-495-2042.
  • Alcoholics Anonymous is the well-established 12-step program for people who are trying to achieve or maintain sobriety. There are several AA meetings each day of the week. Call 617-426-9444.
  • Al-Anon meetings provide help for friends and families of alcoholics, whether or not the alcoholic is involved with AA. There are also special meetings for children of alcoholics. Call 617-426-9444.
  • Narcotics Anonymous is a 12-step program for people trying to stop using drugs or keep off Call 866-624-3578.

These programs and offices are part of Harvard’s ongoing effort to maintain a drug-free workplace. The University will adhere to strict policies of confidentiality for all participants in drug/alcohol abuse rehabilitation programs, as described in University and federal regulations covering confidentiality of student health records.

Information about alcohol at the School is available in the alcohol policy for student organization events, as outlined in the Student Organization Handbook.