Student Drug and Alcohol Policy


It is the policy of the University of Tennessee to maintain a safe and healthy environment for its students and employees. Therefore the University prohibits being under the influence of, or the unlawful use, manufacture, possession, distribution or dispensing of drugs (“controlled substances” as defined in the Controlled Substances Act, 21, U.S.C. 812) and alcohol on university property or during university activities.

Violation of this policy is grounds for disciplinary action - up to and including permanent dismissal [1] of a student. Federal and state laws provide additional penalties including fines and imprisonment (21 U.S.C. 841, et seq., T.C.S. 39-6-401 et seq.). Local ordinances and UTHSC policies (see Centerscope section on Maintenance of Professional and Ethical Standards at also provide penalties for drug- and alcohol- violators, which may include referral for local prosecution or requiring the individuals to participate satisfactorily in an approved drug or alcohol abuse assistance or rehabilitation program.

To maintain a safe and drug-free environment, University of Tennessee expects its campuses and institutes to establish procedures for performing screenings for controlled substances and alcohol within areas or positions that affect safety or where such screenings are required by federal regulations. In addition, screenings are permissible where there is reasonable suspicion of drug or alcohol use.

At UTHSC, colleges bear the additional responsibility of assuring that students entering clinical settings are ‘fit for duty’ and must pay particular attention to issues that could affect patient safety or student success. To this end, the campus has established a number of guidelines and procedures relating to drug and alcohol monitoring.


While colleges may have more explicit rules, students should be aware of the following:

  1. Clinical sites may require drug testing as a condition of clinical placement and students may be responsible for payment of such testing. In addition, agencies may require random drug and/or alcohol testing of a student while in or on the clinical site’s premises. Students participating in patient care in such settings as a part of their education must conform to that site’s policies and requirements.
  2. Students taking over-the-counter or prescribed medication are responsible for understanding the effect that the medication may have on their performance or personal behavior and the possibility that usage of these medications might lead to an adverse finding on a drug screen. Students in such circumstances are strongly advised to report the use of such substances to their Program Director and/or University Health Service if they suspect that their performance may be impaired and/or if their behavior has caused college officials to require them to provide blood, urine or breath samples for analysis.
  3. A college official may require a student to undergo an immediate blood, urine or breath analysis under any of, but not limited to, the following circumstances and conditions:
    1. When there is reasonable suspicion that the individual is under the influence of alcohol, narcotics, stimulants, sedatives, hallucinogens, marijuana or other chemical substances;
    2. Following a work-related injury;
    3. Observation of poor judgment or careless acts, that caused or had the potential to cause patient injury, or that had, or had the potential to jeopardize the safety of others, or that had resulted in damage to property and/or equipment;
    4. Suspected diversion of controlled substances (e.g. use or possession of a prescription drug without a prescription, sale or distribution of a prescription drug, or theft of a prescription drug) including, but not limited to, anti-anxiety agents or psychostimulants (such as Adderal, Dexedrine and Ritalin).
  4. Until proven otherwise, an individual with a preliminary positive drug or alcohol screen is presumed to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol and subject to intervention or sanction by his/her college. The type of intervention or sanction will be dependent on the setting in which the incident occurred, the degree of impairment observed and the actual level of banned substance detected. Additional confirmatory testing or monitoring would likely be required to determine the need for additional sanctions/treatment beyond temporary removal from the setting in which change in, and/or abnormal behavior was observed.
  5. Individuals with a history of drug or alcohol use, including those who were required by the college to seek treatment as a condition of continued enrollment, may be required to have periodic testing for drugs or alcohol at the student’s expense.
  6. Individuals who refuse to undergo an immediate drug and alcohol screen may be subject to immediate disciplinary actions, up to and including dismissal.

Intervention Process for Cases of Chronic Substance Use/Abuse/Dependence

In the absence of a defined college process, the following general guidelines should be followed when a college determines that a student is unduly affected by substance use/abuse/dependence..

  1. Students that have been exhibiting evidence of substance use/abuse/dependence should be referred for assistance through the Student Assistance Program and/or other health care programs for voluntary evaluation and care.
  2. If his/her conduct and performance in a clinical setting warrants such action, the student may be subject to immediate corrective action by the clinical faculty. Such actions could involve immediate removal from the clinical setting, requirement for immediate testing for alcohol or controlled substances at the student’s expense, referral of the student for behavioral screening, or other actions as deemed necessary by the clinical faculty.
  3. A student may be required to take a leave of absence (normally for a period not to exceed 12 months) for evaluation and care by a treating clinician who will be permitted to confirm compliance with recommended treatments and to confirm readiness of the student to return.
  4. Any student who fails to complete recommended care and treatment and/or whose readiness to resume his/her academic program is not confirmed by his/her health care provider will be subject to dismissal.
  5. Any student on leave to address substance use/abuse/dependence will not be allowed to resume active enrollment without a written positive recommendation from his/her treating health care provider(s).
  6. In the case of substance use/abuse/dependence:
    1. The student must provide evidence of successful completion of treatment program and sustained active recovery/sobriety.
    2. The student must present documentation that they are substance free, presently involved in an after-care program and fit to resume their education without restrictions.
    3. The student must sign a statement that they are willing (or be willing) to provide periodic unannounced urine screens during the remainder of their educational experience at the HSC.
  7. Students should be aware that academic programs may be required to divulge information related to prior drug or alcohol treatment for hospital and/or professional credentialing.


  1. “Permanent dismissal” is defined as the student being barred from matriculation into any program offered at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center - refer to Student Code of Conduct section of CenterScope ( [Return to text]

PDF version

Approval Date

Adapted from University HR Policy #0720
April 2, 2013 (approved)


Committee on Academic and Student Affairs

Next Scheduled Review

April 2016

Office of Responsibility

Student Affairs