Substance Abuse

In compliance with federal law, this page contains policies and penalties on substance abuse, as well as health and reporting information and resources for getting help with addiction. 

Towson University will at all times make a good faith effort to maintain a drug-free and substance abuse free workplace and campus through the implementation of our substance abuse policy and program. The policy and program will be reviewed periodically to determine effectiveness and the need to implement change as necessary, and to assure that sanctions developed and implemented were appropriate.  

Policies on substance abuse for faculty, staff and students

The State of Maryland substance abuse policy was updated on January 1, 2023. It prohibits state employees from abusing alcohol or drugs, committing a controlled dangerous substance offense, and committing an alcohol or cannabis-related offense; prohibits appointing authorities from hiring anyone whom it knows currently abuses drugs or alcohol; and encourages employees experiencing substance abuse problems to seek assistance through the employer, the employer's employee assistance program, or a certified rehabilitation program. The policy also provides specific direction on alcohol and drug abuse.

Alcohol & Cannabis Abuse

  • Working under the influence of alcohol, cannabis or intoxicating cannabinoids is a violation of the policy and shall subject the employee to disciplinary action.
  • An employee charged with an alcohol driving offense must report a finding of guilty, an acceptance of a plea of nolo contendere, or a probation before judgment to the employee’s appointing authority within 5 work days.
  • An employee shall be suspended for 15 days and required to successfully participate in an alcohol treatment program designated by an employee assistance program the first time the employee is convicted of an at-the-workplace alcohol driving offense; or found under the influence of alcohol while at-the-workplace.
  • An employee convicted of an off-the-workplace alcohol driving offense, and a non-sensitive employee convicted of any alcohol driving offense shall on the first conviction be referred to an employee assistance program, and in addition, be subject to any other appropriate disciplinary actions; on the second conviction, at a minimum, be suspended for at least 5 days, be referred to an employee assistance program, be required to participate successfully in a treatment program, and in addition, be subject to any other appropriate disciplinary actions, up to and including termination; and on the third conviction, be terminated.

Drug Abuse

  • Working under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance, or the inappropriate influence of prescription drugs or over-the-counter drugs, is a violation of the policy and shall subject the employee to disciplinary action.
  • An employee charged with a controlled dangerous substance offense shall report a finding of guilty, an acceptance of a plea of nolo contendere, or a probation before judgment to the appointing authority within 5 work days.
  • An employee convicted of any controlled dangerous substance offense shall be terminated.
  • An employee who tests positive for a controlled dangerous substance as a result of a random drug test shall be suspended for 15 work days and be required to successfully participate in a drug treatment program designated by an employee assistance program, as provided for by the appointing authority’s drug testing protocol.
  • An employee who abuses a legally prescribed drug or an over-the-counter drug shall, on the first offense, be suspended for 5 work days and be required to participate successfully in a drug treatment program designated by an employee assistance program.

Any employee otherwise in violation of the executive order shall be subject to appropriate progressive disciplinary actions up to and including termination.

When an appointing authority learns or, based on observation or reliable information, suspects that an employee has committed a controlled dangerous substance or alcohol offense at the workplace, the appointing authority shall refer the matter to an appropriate law enforcement authority for further investigation and prosecution. All employees shall cooperate fully with law enforcement authorities in the investigation and prosecution of suspected criminal violations.

The University System of Maryland, as an employer, strives to maintain a campus free from the illegal use, possession, or distribution of controlled substances (as defined pursuant to Controlled Substances Act 21, U.S.C. Sections 801, et. seq.). Unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensation, possession or use of controlled substances by members of the university community is prohibited under university policy.

In addition to any legal penalties under federal and state law, employees found to be in violation of this policy or the Maryland Governor’s Executive Order on Substance Abuse, 01.01.1991.16, may be subject to corrective action under applicable university personnel policies. The university supports programs aimed at the prevention of substance abuse by university employees. Employees are encouraged to seek assistance for substance-dependency problems. Employee-assistance counseling and leaves of absence to attend rehabilitation programs are appropriate means of dealing with these problems.

The use of controlled substances and the abuse of alcohol present a serious threat to individual health and everyone’s safety. Moreover, the use of illegal drugs and the abuse of alcohol can result in less than complete reliability, stability, and good judgment, which is inconsistent with the standards set for the faculty, staff, and students of Towson University (“university”).

Towson University strives to maintain a workplace free from the illegal manufacture, use, distribution, or possession of controlled substances (“Controlled Dangerous Substance Violations”). Controlled Dangerous Substance Violations are considered violations of Towson University’s Code of Student Accountability, the faculty contract, and the terms of employment of regular and contingent (exempt/nonexempt) staff. Faculty, students, and employees who commit Controlled Dangerous Substance Violations are subject to discipline, including mandatory counseling, suspension, or dismissal from the university. Persons who commit Controlled Dangerous Substance Violations are also subject to criminal prosecution.

Alcohol abuse is a form of substance abuse. Persons who consume alcohol on the university campus are responsible to civil and university authorities for compliance with State and local laws. It is a violation of Maryland law for persons under 21 to purchase, possess, or consume alcohol. The followings acts are also unlawful: to knowingly and willfully misrepresent one’s age to obtain alcohol; to purchase alcohol for a minor; and to possess open containers of alcohol in a public place. Violations of the laws relating to alcohol use will be strictly enforced

Specific procedures for reporting drug and/or alcohol use by students, and related penalties and procedures are part of the Towson University Code of Student Accountability. Employee disciplinary measures and procedures for violations of this policy are part of the Faculty Handbook and applicable personnel policies.

In addition to this policy, university employees, including student employees, are subject to the Maryland Governor’s Executive Order 01.01.1991.16 which is attached to this policy and incorporated by reference. In accordance with federal law, the university’s substance abuse policy will be distributed annually to all students and employees.


Reporting Substance Abuse

Upon observing suspected controlled dangerous substance violations or the illegal use of alcohol, faculty and staff, and/or students shall proceed in the following manner:

  1. Report the activity to the Towson University Police Department (TUPD) immediately. Also notify your supervisor. Students observing controlled dangerous substance violations and/or illegal alcohol activity on campus or in the residence halls should notify the TUPD immediately. If the violation occurs in a residence hall, students should notify a housing staff member as well as the TUPD.

  2. Use sound judgment when approaching individuals suspected of illegal drug or alcohol use. It is preferable to leave drugs or alcohol in their original location until the authorities take action.

  3. The university police will determine if state or federal laws have been violated. University employees should not become involved in mediating any situation involving illegal drug or alcohol use.


Penalties for substance abuse

The university strongly encourages the use of drug and/or alcohol rehabilitation programs as an effective measure in creating a drug-free workplace program. However, penalties may be implemented (in consultation with Human Resources’ Manager for Employer-Employee Relations) up to and including reprimand, suspension, mandatory counseling, mandatory participation in a drug and/or alcohol rehabilitation program and/or dismissal. Appropriate university personnel procedures shall be used for each classification of employee.

Maryland law, Md. Code, Criminal Law Article §5-601 et seq. states that persons convicted of Controlled Dangerous Substance Violations are subject to imprisonment (length of time varies) and fines.

In addition to federal and state law, and the policies of the University System of Maryland, students shall be governed by the Towson University Code of Student Accountability. Students are subject to discipline if they are found responsible for controlled dangerous substance violations under the Code of Student Accountability. Various penalties may be imposed depending on the violations. Individuals are encouraged to use voluntary rehabilitation programs and may be required to receive mandatory counseling and treatment. If a student is suspected to have committed controlled dangerous substance violations or to have used alcohol in a manner contrary to university policies, the student will be subject to disciplinary action as well as possible arrest and criminal prosecution.

Students suspected of controlled dangerous substance violations will be referred to the Director of Student Accountability and Restorative Practices in accordance with the Towson University Code of Student Accountability. Disciplinary proceedings may proceed whether or not criminal charges related to the same incident have been resolved. The university encourages voluntary counseling and may require participation in an approved treatment program.

The safety of the university community is the university’s primary concern. Therefore, a student who reports sexual misconduct to the university or to law enforcement, or who participates in a sexual misconduct matter as a witness will not be charged by the university with a violation of university policy for being under the influence of alcohol or drugs (except for any mandatory intervention for substance abuse) if the university determines that (1) the violation occurred during or near the time of the alleged sexual misconduct; (2) the student made the report of sexual misconduct, or is participating in an investigation as a witness, in good faith; and (3) the violation was not an act that was reasonably likely to place the health or safety of another individual at risk.

Any faculty, staff member or student applying 1) for a federal grant/contract in which a drug-free workplace policy is required, 2) for a “Pell Grant” or any other student/faculty grant/award or fellowship in which a drug-free workplace policy has been required, and/or 3) for a subcontract with the Department of Defense, will be required to comply in accordance with federal regulations.

  1. Each individual must certify in writing to abide by the terms of the Towson University Policy on Substance Abuse.
  2. Each individual must notify the Office of Sponsored Projects and Research Administration of any criminal drug conviction for a violation occurring in the workplace, no later than 5 days after conviction.

The university will be responsible for notifying any contracting or granting agency, within ten days of receiving notice of a conviction as described in paragraph 2 above from the employee, or otherwise receiving actual notice of the conviction.

If a grant or award is directly made to an individual, rather than to the institution, the individual will certify in writing to the institution to not engage in unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensation, possession, or use of any controlled substance in the workplace or while conducting any work activity with the grant/contract, and will abide by the terms of the Towson University Substance Abuse Policy.

The university is committed to encouraging all non-state entities who do business with the university or otherwise receive funds from the university, to make a good faith effort to eliminate illegal drug use, and drug and alcohol abuse from their workplace. Therefore, in accordance with Executive Order 01.01.1989.18, the university shall take whatever action necessary and appropriate to require a drug-free workplace, in accordance with applicable federal and state law, of each recipient of a state contract, grant, loan or other state funding instrument.


The university has an established counseling program for students and the Guidance Resources Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for faculty and staff. These programs are designed to provide counseling and rehabilitative services. Employees are encouraged to contact the Office of Human Resources and students are encouraged to contact the Counseling Center if they have a substance abuse problem.

Employees and students who need help with a problem of substance abuse are encouraged to call the Counseling Center, the Health Center, Human Resources or the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs. The resources of the Counseling Center are available for supervisors who need consultation for managing employees who may have substance abuse problems.

Voluntary participation in an assistance program will not jeopardize a participant’s continued employment or enrollment at the university provided that the participant’s job performance or behavior is consistent with established standards. However, voluntary participation in an assistance program will not prevent disciplinary action for violation of the policy, where such violation has already occurred.

There are a variety of outpatient, inpatient, and detox programs in the Baltimore region.

Outpatient Services

Towson University Counseling Center (on-campus)

Resource Group: Counseling and Education Center (Towson)

Maryland Addiction Recovery Center (detox and rehab; Towson) 

Detox, Intensive Outpatient and Inpatient Services

Ashley Addiction Treatment (detox and inpatient; Havre de Grace)

Greater Baltimore Medical Center (ER and Substance Abuse Clinic; Towson)
443-849-2225 (ER)
410-296-2232 (Substance Abuse Clinic)

Howard County General Hospital (ER; Columbia)

Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center (Baltimore City)
Inpatient: 410-550-1908

Maryland Addiction Recovery Center (detox and rehab; Towson)

General Information

Alcoholics Anonymous


Baltimore County Bureau of Behavioral Health

Narcotics Anonymous

Health risks of alcohol and illicit drugs

Alcohol consumption causes a number of changes in behavior and physiology. Even low doses significantly impair judgment, coordination, and abstract mental functioning. Statistics show that alcohol use is involved in a majority of violent behaviors on college campuses, including sexual assault, vandalism, fights, and incidents of drinking and driving. Continued abuse may lead to permanent damage to vital organs and deterioration of a healthy lifestyle. Dependency may also occur.

Lysergic acid (LSD), mescaline, and psilocybin cause illusions and hallucinations. The user may experience panic, confusion, suspicion, anxiety, and loss of control. Delayed effects, or flashbacks, can occur even when the use has ceased. Phencyclidine (PCP) affects the section of the brain that controls the intellect. Because the drug blocks pain receptors, violent PCP episodes may result in self-inflicted injuries.

Cocaine users often have a stuffy, runny nose and may have a perforated nasal septum. The immediate effects of cocaine use include dilated pupils and elevated blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, and body temperature, followed by depression. Crack, or freebase rock cocaine, is extremely addictive and can cause delirium, hallucinations, blurred vision, severe chest pain, muscle spasms, convulsions, and even death.

Amphetamines can cause a rapid or irregular heartbeat, tremors, loss of coordination, collapse, and death. Heavy users are prone to irrational acts.

Heroin is an opiate drug that causes the body to have diminished pain reactions. The use of heroin can result in coma or death due to a reduction in the heart rate.


In accordance with federal legislation, there will be an annual distribution to each employee and student of:

  1. The dangers of drug abuse in the workplace;

  2. The institution’s policy of maintaining a drug-free campus;

  3. Standards of conduct that clearly prohibit, at a minimum, the unlawful possession, use or distribution of illicit drugs and alcohol by students and employees on university property or as part of any university activities;

  4. Applicable legal sanctions under local, state or federal law;

  5. Health risks associated with the use of illicit drugs and abuse of alcohol;

  6. Available drug or alcohol counseling, treatment or rehabilitation and/or reentry programs; and

  7. A statement of the disciplinary sanctions that the university will impose on students and employees.

The information is sent by University Communications every September.