Alcohol and Other Drug Counseling & Support
The College is committed to providing guidance so that students can learn to develop a responsible approach to social challenges, including those relating to alcohol and other drugs (AOD). Swarthmore students have access to an AOD specialist who provides prevention programming and confidential clinical care.
Located in the Worth Health Center, the AOD Counselor and Educator promotes student-centered interactions through individual and group counseling. Furthermore, a trauma-informed perspective strengthens the AOD initiatives.
Assistance for Overcoming Drug and Alcohol Challenges
Swarthmore College maintains the local, state, and federal laws governing alcohol and drug abuse, while upholding an in-house AOD policy. For additional information on these expectations, please refer to the student handbook.
In regards to the campus environment, Swarthmore College endorses a substance-free experience for all community members. When drug or alcohol problems begin to arise, the AOD Counselor and Educator will assist the situation and make recommendations therein. In some cases involving violations of the Student Code of Conduct, the College may include specific suggestions relating to AOD health and development.
AOD and You
Alcohol and other drug (AOD) decisions often stem from our upbringing, beliefs, peer norms, and media messaging. Akin to our development of other wellness behaviors (e.g., sleep, diet, stress reduction, etc.), it is critical to be in the driver’s seat of your AOD decision making. Because social norms are such an important contributor to AOD choices, the following norms poster helps to accurately describe life at Swarthmore.
Drugs are most often viewed in categories based on their bodily effects. Generally, we can think of them as uppers, downers, and all-arounders. "Uppers, downers, and all-arounders" refers to the impact on one’s Central Nervous System (CNS), psychological experience, or related functioning. Refer below for some common categories of drugs.
- Stimulants & Nootropics
Once ingested, stimulants cause feelings of wakefulness, locomotion, and a reduced need for sleep; all while increasing one’s heart-rate. At higher doses, this class of drugs may lead to increased anxiety, heart failure, and even psychotic episodes including hallucinations and paranoia. Common stimulants include Cocaine, Caffeine, Energy Drinks, Adderall, and other “study drugs”. Regarding medical use, always check with your prescriber if unwanted side-effects develop, and keep your prescriptions safe. Click here to learn more about safe storage of medications.
- Depressants & Anti-Anxiety-Inducers
Alcohol, Xanax, Klonopin, many anxiety meds, and even low doses of Marijuana are found in this category. These drugs commonly provide a reduction in stress levels, although some people do react conversely and become agitated. Furthermore, Depressants interfere with one’s decision making, memory, and judgment, while having a high potential for abuse or dependence. Many of these drugs provide relief from tension; however, combining two or more CNS depressants can reduce respiratory rates to unsafe levels. Accordingly, if you consume Alcohol and expect to begin a new medication, inform you prescriber and refer to the warning label for possible contraindications.
- THC & Cannabis
Marijuana is a complex variety of the hemp plant Cannabis Sativa. The consumption of Marijuana produces varying changes in one’s biopsychosocial and spiritual experience due the chemical delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, also called THC. THC binds to naturally occurring receptors in our body called Cannabinoid receptors. Once activated, this drug can act like a stimulant, depressant, or hallucinogen depending on the type and strength of the plant. Specific short-term effects of Marijuana include changes in thinking, attitude, and attention, which are effected by individual predispositions. Long-term effects include higher incidence of mental health conditions and possible dependence. Until 2013, Cannabis Dependence did not include a physical component; however, current research now indicates the prolonged consumption of Marijuana will cause physical withdrawal in addition to mental obsessions and a drop in IQ (8points). Furthermore, researchers have found that even casual Marijuana smokers are displaying abnormalities in areas of the brain related to emotion, motivation and decision-making. This may be directly related to the strength of today’s Marijuana.
Opioids are commonly viewed as a type of pain killer. These strong drugs are prescribed as Percocet, Vicodin, Oxycontin, Heroin, and Codeine to name a few. These substances bind to Opioid receptors in our head and stomach, which change the perception of pain and mood. Opioids put strain on an individual’s breathing, and should therefore be viewed as a CNS depressant, even when some users feels energetic when using. Opioids are well tolerated by the body from a long-term perspective, but often require larger doses over time to achieve the same effect. This physical change (tolerance) causes mental urges, or cravings, and can lead to dependence. Opioid Dependence is a mental health disorder, as well as a medical diagnosis, due to the immense changes that are beyond an individual’s control. Upon cessation, a person with an Opioid Dependence will have unpleasant experiences of anxiety, flu-like symptoms, and exaggerated sensations of emotional and physical pain. Current research supports the use of medication assisted therapy, counseling, and related supports to overcome challenges with all Opioids.
- Hallucinogens & Psychedelics
Hallucinogens are a special class of drugs because their effects may be unpredictable. Mood, physiology, environment, and even one’s beliefs can greatly influence the experience. Hallucinogens have a long history of being prevalent in spiritual and mental health practices, some of which still occur today. Drugs in this category include LSD, MDMA (“Molly”), DMT, Ketamine, PCP, DXM, and Marijuana at high doses. Please note, that a “pure” or natural hallucinogen does not make is safer. Once ingested, these chemicals disrupt the normal electro-chemical processes within the body. This causes significant changes in perception of self, time, and space. These changes may last between 2-24 hours (and even longer in some cases), and must run their course before the experience ends.
The following treatment options are a summary of the American Society of Addiction Medicine's levels of care. If you or someone you care about is struggling with a substance-related issue, please consider contacting Swarthmore's Alcohol and Other Drug Counselor & Educator for a personalized review of these options.
- Early Intervention Services
These options are for individuals who may be at risk of developing a substance-related problem. Specific early intervention services could include psycho-educational individual or group engagement, short-term brief interventions, and some forms of counseling.
- Outpatient Services
Outpatient services are capable of assisting persons with mild drug and alcohol problems or even a formal Substance Use Disorders. Behavioral health professionals will usually incorporate a biopsychosocial assessment and determine the approach number of outpatient sessions (per week or per month) to promote overall health and wellness.
- Medically-Managed Outpatient Services
This is a unique consideration when it comes to treatment options. Typically, this level of care is for individuals who have developed a physical dependence to a substance for which an outpatient treatment medication is available. For example, outpatient buprenorphine treatment is available for opioid dependence. This level of care should only be considered following a thorough evaluation from a medical professional.
- Intensive Outpatient and Partial Hospitalization
Like the regular outpatient services, intensive outpatient and partial hospitalization stem from a thorough assessment of an individual's substance use, mental health, treatment readiness, biomedical status, and environmental strengths and challenges. At these level of care however, it is likely to include additional hours per week while having additional capabilities to treat more serious challenges included psychiatric crises.
- Residential and Inpatient Services
At this level of care, patients will generally sleep on-site for additional care and rehabilitation. These services can vary greatly in the number of hours dedicated to counseling or psychiatric stabilization; however, they regularly staff addiction specialists and include the capabilities to treat more serious co-occurring conditions.
- Medically-Managed Services Inpatient Services
This is considered an important level of care for anyone struggling with a serious biomedical or emotional behavioral impairment. This level of care will regularly include 24hour nursing care to offer stabilization and assure safety.
Alcohol and Other-Drug Counselor & Educator
Joshua M. Ellow, MS, CAADC, ICCDP-D
Health Center, Room 126
Local and Off-Campus Resources
- Alcoholics Anonymous (Central Office): 215-923-7900
- A.A. Meeting Information: 610-527-9711
- Crozer-Chester Medical Center: 610-497-7200
- Narcotics Anonymous: 610-534-9510
For general information
- Deans' Office: 610-328-8365
- Psychological Services: 610-328-8059
- Worth Health Center: 610-328-8058
In case of acute intoxication or other emergencies:
- Public Safety: 610-328-8333
(Call 911 if other resources are not available.)
Online Alcohol Assessment Resource
The purpose of this Personalized Feedback Index (PFI) is to provide you with information about your alcohol use. This specific online assessment was designed for student athletes; however, it is a great tool for anyone to explore their alcohol use patterns. Please note, your personal data will not be identifiable. The questions usually require about 10 minutes to complete, followed by a summary that is specific to your responses.
Click the "360PROOF" icon below to begin the questionnaire.