Drug and Alcohol Policy

State and federal law, as well as University policy, prohibit the unlawful possession, use, or distribution of illicit drugs and alcohol by students and employees.
Cities and towns in Massachusetts prohibit public consumption of alcohol and impose fines for violations. The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation also prohibits public consumption of alcohol in its parks.

Harvard University is not, and cannot be considered, a sanctuary from the existing laws.

Violators of the law may be subject to heavy penalties mandated by city, state, and federal governments. Potential penalties include the loss of student grants and loans, fines, and prison sentences.

University Policy

The following 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 and the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act Amendments of 1989. This policy applies to every Harvard employee. Students should consult their school handbooks for other applicable policies and disciplinary procedures related to student conduct, as well as state and federal laws concerning hazing, firearms, and other important concerns. In the absence of separate student policies about drugs and alcohol, this policy applies:

Violations of laws relating to controlled substances or alcohol are prohibited on Harvard premises, in vehicles provided by Harvard, at any work site or location at which University duties are being performed by employees, or as part of any of Harvard's activities. This means, among other things, that employees or students may not unlawfully manufacture, distribute, dispense, possess, or use controlled substances in the workplace or on campus. Common examples of controlled substances, as defined by law, are cocaine, marijuana, and heroin. To acquaint members of the Harvard community with the applicable laws, the University's Office of the General Counsel has prepared a description of local, state, and federal laws concerning drugs and alcohol. A copy of the memorandum is available upon request.

The University will take disciplinary action against violators, consistent with local, state, and federal laws. Such action may include requiring satisfactory participation in a substance abuse treatment, counseling, or education program as a condition of reinstatement, continued employment, or studies at Harvard; suspension; termination of employment or student status; or referral for prosecution.

Finally, to ensure Harvard's compliance with the Drug-Free Workplace Act, any employee who is convicted of a violation of any criminal drug law occurring in the workplace must report that conviction to his or her immediate supervisor within five days. The Drug-Free Workplace Act makes strict compliance with this policy statement a condition of employment on all federal grants or contracts. Within ten days of learning of a drug conviction resulting from the workplace activities of any individual engaged in work under grants or contracts funded by a federal agency, Harvard must notify the relevant funding agency of this conviction.

Educational Programs

The Office of Alcohol & Other Drug Services (AODS) has developed a comprehensive substance abuse prevention program that seeks to reduce the negative consequences associated with alcohol and drug use. Through educational programs, intervention services, policy initiatives and coordination with treatment providers, AODS collaborates with students and staff to promote the health and safety of all members of the Harvard community. Programs and services include mandatory alcohol education for all incoming freshmen and student-athletes, training for residential staff, student-leaders, and members of various student clubs and organizations, a robust peer education program, and evidence-based interventions for students who present at-risk for substance abuse or dependency.

For additional information on drug and alcohol abuse education programs please visit the Alcohol and Other Drug Services website

Resources for Advice and Counseling

Substance abuse is harmful to your health, with effects ranging from disorientation and fatigue to psychosis, coma, and possible death. Because of the considerable health risks involved, resources are available to assist the University community in understanding and dealing with drug and alcohol abuse.

If you have questions or issues about alcohol and other drugs, or you think someone you know might have a problem with them, there are many resources in the Harvard/Cambridge/Boston area at your disposal. These resources will maintain your or your friend's confidentiality, so please do not hesitate to use them.

Harvard Resources

Office of Alcohol and Other Drug Services

UHS Bureau of Study Counsel (for undergraduates)

UHS Center for Wellness

UHS Medical Service

UHS Mental Health Service

The Wellness Corporation (Harvard employee assistance program)

External Resources

Alcoholics Anonymous

Al-Anon/Children of Alcoholics

Women for Sobriety

Smart Recovery Self-Help Network

Narcotics Anonymous

Cocaine Anonymous