Health and Safety
Drugs and Alcohol
As a visitor of your host country, you are subject to the laws and regulations of
their judicial system. Refusing to obey local laws, especially those that concern
the use of illicit drugs, will get you kicked out of your program and could get you
thrown into jail. Do not assume that laws are more lenient abroad or that foreign
governments are more tolerant. Do not assume you are protected as an American.
If you are arrested, there is very little your program, Skidmore College, or the U.S. Embassy can do for you. In fact, the U.S. Embassy has absolutely no jurisdiction to intercede in the host country's judicial system.
There are currently hundreds of Americans under detention for drug violations in countries throughout Europe, the Middle East, Latin America and Asia. In some of these countries, prisons are primitive and overcrowded, lack sanitation facilities and bedding, offer limited quantities of substandard food, and provide little or no heat or light. Again, there is little anyone can do to assist you if you find yourself arrested for drug use overseas. Therefore, we cannot reiterate strongly enough, do not use, possess, or distribute illegal drugs of any kind, including marijuana, while you are abroad.
In addition to the legal concerns surrounding drug use, you must strongly consider the safety issues involved. Although students think they are not at risk and that they can handle themselves in any situation, this is just not the reality of studying overseas. You do not know the culture. You do not know how to read natives' behavior. You do not know who is dangerous and who is not. Do not under any circumstances put yourself at risk by participating in drug-related activities.
Alcohol is a more difficult matter to deal with. Alcohol often is more a part of everyday life than it is here. Citizens of the country where you will be studying will most likely have a very different attitude toward alcohol than is typically seen here. It is unlikely that getting drunk is widely accepted. Again concerning your safety, you are much more at risk if you have been drinking, by becoming an easy target for less desirable people and by impairing your judgment. You will have to decide what to do for yourself, but be sure that alcohol does not interfere with your studies.
A Discussion About Alcohol and Student Exchange - A Discussion with SAFETI Project Director and SAFETI Newsletter Editor Gary Rhodes and Joel Epstein, Director of Special Projects, Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention.