Learning Abroad Center

Alcohol, Drugs, & Study Abroad

University of Minnesota Education Abroad Alcohol and Drug Policy

The University of Minnesota Code of Conduct and the Code of Conduct for Education Abroad states that alcohol may be consumed, but not abused, by students who are of legal age in their host countries. Students who choose to consume alcohol do so with the knowledge that they remain responsible for their actions at all times.

The University of Minnesota has a zero tolerance approach to drug use while abroad. Students using drugs abroad may immediately be removed from the program at their own cost.

If you have questions about the University’s alcohol and drug policy, email your Learning Abroad Center program contact.

When Choosing to Drink or Use Illegal Drugs in a Foreign Country

  • Many countries have laws regarding alcohol and drug use that are more severe than in the US. In some countries, those caught with illegal drugs can be subject to death.
  • Your consumption of alcohol or illegal drugs, and/or your behavior while under the influence, might lead to a violation of local laws in addition to program and University conduct codes.
  • Certain types of alcoholic beverages may be stronger than what you are used to in the US.
  • You are not only representing yourself but also your program, the University of Minnesota, and the US.

Consequences of Drinking Too Much

Accidents and Injuries

Accidents and injuries are common among those who consume too much alcohol. Alcohol impairs judgment, coordination, perception, and concentration. Impairment of these skills can result in a range of accidents, including falling down a flight of stairs or tripping on the sidewalk. Injuries resulting from such accidents can be minor or severe. Within the past few years, a number of college students have died in accidents abroad while intoxicated. These accidental deaths include several students who have fallen from balconies or bedroom windows, drowned in lakes or ponds, or tripped on the sidewalk.

Alcohol Poisoning

Alcohol, when used to excess, can cause alcohol poisoning. The effects of alcohol poisoning can range from vomiting to falling into a coma and subsequent death. Too much alcohol can cause vital organs, such as the heart and lungs, to slow down or even stop, resulting in death. Often someone who dies from alcohol poisoning passes out and is allowed to “sleep it off.” If you are in the presence of a fellow student who exhibits any of the signs above, the student should receive immediate attention. Call your program's 24/7 emergency contact.

Sexual Assault

Most sexual assaults involve the use of alcohol. Alcohol misuse can result in impaired judgement. See Sexual Assault page for more information.

Alcohol 101

Why should I eat before and during drinking?

Food slows down the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream and gives your body more time to metabolize the alcohol and get it out of your system. Foods that are high in protein or high in fat are especially effective. Beverages, such as water or anything carbonated, will result in increased absorption of alcohol into your bloodstream.

Do all drinks contain the same amount of alcohol?

Some drinks are stronger than others, but in general a 1 ounce shot, a 12 ounce beer, a mixed drink, or a 4 ounce glass of wine all contain about .05 ounces of alcohol. Some mixed drinks and some types of beer contain more than .05 ounces of alcohol.

How are women affected by the alcohol they consume?

In general, women will be more affected by the alcohol they consume. Women typically have a higher percentage of body fat and will absorb more of the alcohol they consume. Women also tend to have less of a certain enzyme, ADH, which helps to break down alcohol in the stomach.

How long does it take for the liver to process the alcohol contained in one drink?

It takes the liver about one hour to metabolize the amount of alcohol contained in a standard drink (.05 ounces of alcohol). Drinking coffee or taking a cold shower will not speed up the process.

How do I know if I’ve been drugged?

Rohypnol and GHB are two drugs that are often used to incapacitate a victim. They are virtually odorless and tasteless and can be easily dissolved in any drink. When either of these drugs is consumed, you can suffer from poor decision-making, loss of consciousness, or the inability to remember events that took place while under the influence. You may have been drugged if you:

  • Feel more intoxicated than usual given the amount of alcohol you consumed
  • Wake up hung over, feeling “fuzzy,” experiencing memory lapses, and can’t account for a period of time
  • Cannot remember what happened after consuming your last drink
  • Feel as though someone had sex with you but you can’t remember any or all of the incident. For more information on sexual assault resources, see Aurora Center

If you think you may have been drugged, ask a friend to stay with you and take you to a hospital. At the hospital, request that the hospital take a urine sample to test for drugs in your system.