13: The Drug-Free Workplace

As required by the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988, Swarthmore College has adopted the following policy to establish and maintain a campus that promotes a safe and healthy environment for students, staff and faculty free from the effects of substance abuse. Individuals who abuse alcohol and other drugs are a danger to themselves and others. Substance abuse, as defined in this policy, refers to the use of illicit drugs or controlled substances and the consumption of alcohol in quantities to the extent that a student or employee is unable to perform his/her work in a safe and productive manner.

College Policies

It is a violation of Swarthmore College policy for students and employees to possess, use or distribute illicit drugs on College property or as part of College activities. The possession, use and distribution of alcohol is restricted.

Certain College sponsored events for employees may serve alcoholic beverages; students are governed by the Alcohol Beverage Policy Guidelines administered by the Dean's Office. Violation of the College's policies can result in disciplinary action up to and including discharge or expulsion.

Local, state and federal laws also prohibit the unlawful possession, use, distribution and sale of alcohol and illicit drugs. Criminal penalties for violation of such laws can include fines up to $250,000 and/or imprisonment and seizure of the violator's property used in committing the crime.

Hazards of Drugs in the Workplace

Drugs can:

  • Make you feel able to handle tasks that are too much for you or make you careless and forget important safety steps that are normally second nature.
  • Throw off your sense of time, space, and distance — this is especially dangerous when operating machinery or driving.
  • Cause lateness and absenteeism, increasing the workload of others.
  • Cause crime on the job — including theft of personal belongings, to finance someone's addiction.
  • Cause major errors in the work we do, risking harm to the College and/or the individuals we serve.

Health Risks

In addition to College sanctions, criminal penalties, and workplace hazards, specific serious health risks are associated with the use of illicit drugs and alcohol. Listed below are some of the known health risks associated with the use of drugs and alcohol.

Alcohol and Other Depressants

Includes barbiturates, sedatives, and tranquilizers.
Risks: Addiction, accidents as a result of impaired ability and judgment, overdose when used with other depressants, damage to a developing fetus, heart and liver damage.


Risks: Addiction, panic reaction, impaired short-term memory, increased risk of lung cancer and emphysema, particularly in cigarette smokers, impairment of driving ability.


Risks: Addiction, heart attack, seizures, lung damage, severe depression, paranoia, psychosis. Similar risks are associated with other stimulants, such as speed and uppers.


Includes LSD, PCP, MDMA.
Risks: Unpredictable behavior, emotional instability, violent behavior, organic brain damage in heavy users, convulsions, coma.


Includes heroin, Demerol, morphine, codeine.
Risks: Addiction, accidental overdose, risk of hepatitis and AIDS from contaminated needles.


Includes gas, aerosols, glue, nitrites.
Risks: Loss of consciousness, suffocation, damage to brain and central nervous system, sudden death, nausea and vomiting, nosebleeds, impaired judgment.

Swarthmore College Drug-Free Workplace Policy

The unlawful possession, use, distribution, or sale of a controlled substance is prohibited on all College property. Each employee, as a condition of employment, must abide by the terms of this policy. Violations of this policy may result in discharge or other discipline in accordance with College policies and procedures covering the conduct of faculty, staff and students.

The College has an obligation to provide a healthy and safe environment for all students, employees and visitors to its campus. Consistent with this concern, whenever possible, the College will assist students and employees in overcoming drug or alcohol abuse by referring the individual to an appropriate specialist or organization. However, the decision to seek diagnosis and accept treatment is primarily the individual's responsibility.

Each employee engaged in the performance of work supported by a federal grant or contract has an additional obligation under this policy. He/she must notify his/her department head of any criminal drug statue conviction for a violation occurring in the workplace no later than five days after such conviction. The College is required to notify the contracting agency within ten days after receiving notice from the employee or otherwise receiving actual notice of such conviction.

Your Rights & Responsibilities

Under the law, both employers and employees have certain rights and responsibilities. Here's a summary of your rights and responsibilities as an employee of Swarthmore College:

  • You must read our policy statement.
  • You have the right to know what help is available to aid you in overcoming an involvement with alcohol or drugs.
  • If you violate the rules of our Drug-Free Workplace Policy, you could be disciplined up to and including discharge.
  • If you are convicted of a criminal drug violation you must tell your department head within five days after the conviction. If you do not, you can be disciplined up to and including discharge. (You do not have to tell us of a conviction for activities that did not happen in our workplace.)

Resources Available

A variety of resources exist for drug or alcohol counseling, treatment, or rehabilitation programs. For detailed information concerning these resources available from the College and/or community agencies, staff and faculty should contact the offices listed below or contact their supervisor.

Faculty: Provost's Office 610-328-8319

Staff: Human Resources 610-328-8398

Employee Assistance Program: (for faculty and staff) 1-800-437-0911


  • Dean's Office 610-328-8365
  • Worth Health Center 610-328-8058
  • Psychological Services 610-328-8059

Community Resources:

  • Alcohol & Drug Referral Hotline 800-Alcohol (800-252-6465)
  • Alcoholics Anonymous Central Office 215-923-7900
  • Cocaine Anonymous 866-777-0983 (www.ca.org)
  • Crozer Chester Medical Center 610-497-7200
  • Narcotics Anonymous 610-534-9510