Drug Safety and Harm Reduction

For National Alcohol and Drug Facts Week, we wanted to highlight drug education and addiction recovery resources both on and off campus. Below is a list of resources to turn to for drug safety information and helpful tips for safer drug use.


EXCO 420: DrugsCo

DrugsCo is a student-run Experimental College class that has been active for eight semesters. The course covers information on drugs, harm reduction, and counterculture. Instructors talk about how licit and illicit drugs work on a physiological level, as well as the sociological issues produced by the War on Drugs.

Students for Sensible Drug Policy

Oberlin SSDP is a student-run chapter of a nationwide coalition that seeks to implement drug policies rooted in evidence, compassion, and human rights. You may recognize SSDP from their drug safety posters on bulletin boards across campus. SSDP also hosts workshops, such as their “trip-sitting” workshop that instructs sober individuals on how to effectively support friends who are using psychedelic drugs. At the on-campus music festival, Solarity, SSDP hosts a cool-down station with water, fans, fidget toys, and basic harm reduction information.

Medical Amnesty

Oberlin College offers a medical amnesty policy to encourage students in potentially dangerous situations to reach out for help without fear of disciplinary action. For example, if your friend is under 21 and exhibiting signs of alcohol poisoning, you can call Campus Safety at (440) 775-8444 and neither of you will face formal sanctions for underage drinking. You may have to complete a low-time-commitment, online alcohol education course and meet with someone in the Offices of the Dean of Students or Residential Education, but the incident will not appear on your formal record. This policy also covers use of illicit drugs (e.g., marijuana, cocaine, opioids, etc.). Campus Safety officers are trained to administer Narcan, an emergency medicine that temporarily reverses opioid overdose.

The Nord Center

The Nord Center is an organization in Lorain that provides mental and behavioral health services. The Nord Center offers daily peer support and access to addiction treatment. It also provides resources for family, friends, and significant others of people who have substance use disorders. It offers Narcan kits as well as a syringe exchange, so individuals can have access to clean needles.


Safety Tips (if you choose to use)

1. Test before you ingest

Many drugs commonly contain substances other than what is advertised. Testing drugs can help determine what substance(s) you might be ingesting.

2. Start low and go slow

Beginning with a low dose of a substance is always important to avoid overwhelming or dangerous experiences.

3. Check in with your friends

Avoid using substances alone. Make sure your friends are informed about the drugs you’ve taken as well as basic safety precautions.

4. Check your interactions

Some drug combinations pose a significant safety risk. Always look up interactions between substances you use, including alcohol and prescription medications. For example, an interaction of benzodiazepines (e.g., Xanax, Ativan) and alcohol can be fatal.

5. Stay hydrated

Dehydration is a major risk when using drugs, including alcohol. Many stimulants (e.g., cocaine, Adderall) and typical “rave drugs” (e.g., MDMA, 2C-B) can cause excessive overheat- ing in warm environments. Make sure to take breaks and hydrate, ideally with electrolytes.

6. Know when to get help

If someone is exhibiting signs of an overdose, call 911 and Campus Safety at (440) 775-8444 immediately. Signs of an overdose include, but are not limited to: chest pain, seizures, extreme agitation, abnormal breathing, loss of consciousness, skin color changes, and an irregular pulse.