JSU Substance Abuse Policy Statement

Jacksonville State University (JSU) is committed to providing a safe work environment and to fostering the well-being and health of its employees. That commitment is jeopardized when any JSU employee illegally uses drugs on or off the job, comes to work under their influence, possesses, distributes or sells drugs in the workplace, or abuses or comes to work under the influence of alcohol. Therefore, in accordance with the federal Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 and in furtherance of its commitment to maintain a safe working environment, JSU has established the Drug-Free Workplace Policy (Policy #1:02:13). Violations of this policy are subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination.


Employee: all faculty, staff, and student employees

Workplace: Jacksonville State University property, vehicles, or participation in a JSU sponsored activity away from campus.

Prescription drugs: pharmaceutical drugs which legally requires a medical prescription to be dispensed as opposed to an over-the-count drug which can be purchased without a prescription.

  • It is a violation of JSU policy for any employee to use, possess, sell, trade, offer for sale, or offer to buy illegal drugs or otherwise engage in the illegal use of or attempt to use of illegal drugs on or off the job,
  • It is a violation of JSU policy for any employee to report to work under the influence of or while possessing in his or her body, blood or urine, illegal drugs in any detectable amount.
  • It is a violation of JSU policy for any employee to report to work under the influence of or impaired by alcohol.
  • It is a violation of JSU policy for any employee to use prescription drugs illegally, i.e., to use prescription drugs that have not been legally obtained or in a manner or for a purpose other than as prescribed. However, nothing in this policy precludes the appropriate use of legally prescribed medications.
  • It is a violation of JSU policy for an employee to illegally operate a vehicle, on or off university property, while under the influence of intoxicating alcohol or drugs contrary to the provisions of state law.

Everyone shares responsibility for maintaining a safe work environment and co-workers should encourage anyone who has an apparent alcohol or drug problem to seek help. Supervisors, in particular, should counsel employees whenever they see changes in performance or behavior that suggest an employee has a drug or alcohol problem. Reasonable suspicion exists when an employee exhibits behavior that an average person of ordinary intelligence exercising ordinary judgment would believe a person to be impaired by alcohol or drugs. Although it is not the supervisor’s job to diagnose personal problems, the supervisor should encourage such employees to seek help and advise them about available resources for getting help. Some indicators of possible substance abuse include, but are not necessarily limited to:

  • Observed use of alcohol or drugs during work hours on or off campus.
  • Excessive tardiness or excessive departure from work.
  • Excessive unexplained absences from work or frequent absence from the assigned workplace.
  • Accidents on the job
  • Significant changes in personal behavior, appearance, hygiene or physical care that are not otherwise explainable.
  • Odor of alcohol or marijuana
  • Glassy eyes
  • Unusually dilated or restricted pupils
  • Unusual gait or difficulty maintaining balance
  • Unusually excessive talking
  • Unusually slow, incoherent or rapid speech
  • Unusual aggressive or emotional displays of conduct
  • Deteriorating work performance not otherwise explainable.
  • Statements by the employee implying the use or abuse of alcohol or drugs.
  • Arrests for alcohol or drug abuse.

The goal of this policy is to balance JSU’s respect for individuals and their privacy with the need to maintain a safe, productive and drug- free environment. The intent of this policy is to offer a help to those who need it, while sending a clear message that the illegal use of drugs and the abuse of alcohol are incompatible with employment at JSU.

Special Considerations as a Federal Contractor or Grantee. JSU enjoys the status of a contractor with the federal government and as the recipient of federal support as a grantee under various grant programs. As required by federal law and as a condition of employment, employees must abide by the terms of this policy and must notify the Director of Human Resources in writing of any conviction of a violation of a criminal drug statute occurring in the workplace no later than five (5) calendar days after such conviction. Please note that JSU has a separate self-reporting policy (Policy #1:02:24) which includes the requirement to report being charged with, arrested for, or convicted of offenses enumerated therein.

Employee Assistance Program. Jacksonville State University offers an Employee Assistance (EAP) benefit for employees (and their eligible dependents). The EAP provides confidential assessment, referral and short-term counseling for those who need or request it. Participation in the EAP will not affect an employee’s career advancement or employment, nor will it protect an employee from disciplinary action if substandard job performance continues or the employee continues to violate company policy. The EAP is a process used in conjunction with discipline, not a substitute for discipline. If an EAP referral to a treatment provider outside the EAP is necessary, costs may be covered by the employee’s medical insurance, but the cost of such outside services are the employees’ responsibility and not the responsibility of JSU. Confidentiality is assured; no information regarding the nature of the personal problem will be made available to supervisors, nor will it be included in the permanent personnel file.

JSU Counseling Services. JSU also has an on-campus counseling service that is available to employees on a voluntary basis. Counseling through the on-campus counseling service, like counseling through the EAP, is confidential and will not be shared with or made available to supervisors, nor will any reports be included in an employee’s permanent personnel file.

Procedures Governing Impaired Employees. Any employee reporting to work visibly impaired will be deemed unable to perform required duties and will not be allowed to work. If possible, the employee’s supervisor will first seek another supervisor’s opinion to confirm the employee’s status. Next, the supervisor will consult privately with the employee to determine the cause of the observation, including whether substance abuse has occurred. If, in the opinion of the supervisor, the employee is considered impaired by drugs or alcohol, the supervisor shall immediately notify and consult with the Director of the Department of Human Resources for guidance. If the conclusion is that the employee is medically impaired rather than under the influence of alcohol or drugs, appropriate measures shall be taken for the employee to be sent home or to a medical facility by safe transportation alternative - depending on the determination of the observed impairment - and accompanied by the supervisor or another employee if necessary. An impaired employee should not be allowed to drive.

Employee Drug and Alcohol Testing. JSU’s policy is to balance the needs of the institution in maintaining a safe workplace and educational environment with the right to privacy of its employees. The University reserves the right to direct an employee to submit to drug and/or alcohol testing in the following circumstances:

1. When by sufficient, credible, articulable facts objectively considered along with any reasonable inferences appropriately drawn therefrom there is determined to be a high likelihood that an employee is illegally using, is impaired by or is under the influence of drugs or alcohol on the job. As used herein, the finding of a high likelihood requires that it be shown that there is a well-founded opinion that the employee is abusing or under the influence of alcohol or drugs based on objective facts. Among other things, such facts and inferences may be based upon, but not limited to, consideration of the following, individually or collectively as they may present:

  • Observable phenomena while at work such as direct observation of substance abuse or of the physical symptoms or manifestations of being impaired due to substance abuse
  • Abnormal conduct or erratic behavior while at work or a significant deterioration in work performance
  • A report of substance abuse provided by a reliable and credible source
  • Information that an employee has caused or contributed to an accident while at work
  • Evidence that an employee has used, possessed, sold, solicited, or transferred drugs or alcohol while working or while on the employer’s premises or while operating the employer’s vehicle, machinery, or equipment.

2. When employees have caused or contributed to an on-the-job injury that resulted in a loss of work-time, which means any period of time during which an employee stops performing the normal duties of employment and leaves the place of employment to seek care from a licensed medical provider. JSU may send employees for substance abuse and /or alcohol testing if they are involved in on-the-job accidents or while operating a university vehicle.

Alcohol Testing

With the exception of alcoholic beverages served at university sponsored or approved events, the consumption or possession of alcoholic beverages on JSU’s premises is prohibited. An employee who is impaired or under the influence of alcohol is a risk to himself/herself as well as to others; therefore, any employee who is intoxicated or impaired while on duty or on university business shall be guilty of misconduct and shall be subject to discipline up to and including termination.

Refusal to Submit

Failure to submit on proper request to a required substance abuse/alcohol test is misconduct and shall also be subject to discipline up to and including termination.

Possible Health Risks

Alcohol: The risks associated with the use and/or abuse of alcohol include:

Brain: Alcohol interferes with the brain’s communication pathways and can affect the way the brain looks and works. These disruptions can change mood and behavior and make it harder to think clearly and move with coordination.

Heart: Drinking a lot over a long time or too much on a single occasion can damage the heart, causing problems including:

    • Cardiomyopathy: Stretching and drooping of heart muscle
    • Arrhythmias: Irregular heartbeat
    • Stroke
    • High blood pressure

Liver: Heavy drinking takes a toll on the liver, and can lead to a variety of problems and liver inflammations including:

    • Steatosis, or fatty liver
    • Alcoholic hepatitis
    • Fibrosis
    • Cirrhosis

Pancreas: Alcohol causes the pancreas to produce toxic substances that can eventually lead to pancreatitis, a dangerous inflammation and swelling of the blood vessels in the pancreas that prevents proper digestion.

Cancer: Drinking too much alcohol can increase your risk of developing certain cancers, including cancers of the:

    • Mouth
    • Esophagus
    • Throat
    • Liver
    • Breast

Immune System: Drinking too much can weaken your immune system, making your body a much easier target for disease. Chronic drinkers are more liable to contract diseases like pneumonia and tuberculosis than people who do not drink too much. Drinking a lot on a single occasion slows your body’s ability to ward off infections – even up to 24 hours after getting drunk.

Drug Abuse. Drug use can have a wide range of short- and long-term, direct and indirect effects. These effects often depend on the specific drug or drugs used, how they are taken, how much is taken, the person's health, and other factors. Short-term effects can range from changes in appetite, wakefulness, heart rate, blood pressure, and/or mood to heart attack, stroke, psychosis, overdose, and even death. These health effects may occur after just one use.

Longer-term effects can include heart or lung disease, cancer, mental illness, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and others. Long-term drug use can also lead to addiction. Drug addiction is a brain disorder. Not everyone who uses drugs will become addicted, but for some, drug use can change how certain brain circuits work. These brain changes interfere with how people experience normal pleasures in life such as food and sex, their ability to control their stress level, their decision-making, their ability to learn and remember, etc. These changes make it much more difficult for someone to stop taking the drug even when it’s having negative effects on their life and they want to quit.

Drug use can also have indirect effects on both the people who are taking drugs and on those around them. This can include affecting a person’s nutrition; sleep; decision-making and impulsivity; and risk for trauma, violence, injury, and communicable diseases. Drug use can also affect babies born to women who use drugs while pregnant. Broader negative outcomes may be seen in education level, employment, housing, relationships, and criminal justice involvement.

Legal Consequences

The illegal use or possession of drugs illegally can have profound legal consequences.

Alcohol. Most people know driving while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs can result in driver's license revocation or even imprisonment in some cases. It is less well known that repeat DUI offenders can be sentenced to prison and that injuring or killing someone while operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol can result in prosecution for a serious assault or homicide, up to and including murder.

It is also illegal for anyone under the age if twenty-one to consume, possess or attempt to possess (purchase) alcohol; for anyone to provide alcohol to one under the age of twenty-one; or for an adult to allow or promote underage consumption of alcohol on a premises they control.

Public intoxication and the consumption of alcoholic beverages in a public place are often made illegal by local ordinance.

Drug Offenses. The illegal possession, use, or distribution of drugs violate state law and may also violate federal law.

Federal Law. Federal drug trafficking penalties consider the type and amount of the drug involved, the offender’s drug violation history, and other factors. The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) maintains a list of penalties for federal trafficking offenses. Generally, for each drug, there is a threshold amount that brings the offender under the mandatory minimum sentencing structure. When death or serious bodily injury results from use of the drugs, first time offenders are subject to a sentence of 20 years to life, and repeat offenders are subject to a mandatory life sentence. A first offense of distributing to persons under age 21 may be punishable by twice the maximum sentence, and three times for second offenses. If the trafficking is on premises in which a person under age 18 is present or resides, an additional penalty up to 20 years imprisonment may be imposed. Persons convicted of trafficking within 1,000 feet of a school or college face penalties twice as high as the maximum penalties, with a mandatory one-year prison sentence for first offenses, and three times as high for second offenses.

A federal drug conviction may result in the loss of federal benefits, including school loans, grants, scholarships, contracts, and professional and commercial licenses for up to one year for a first offense and up to five years for subsequent offenses. Federal drug trafficking convictions may result in denial of federal benefits for up to five years for a first conviction; possession convictions may result in denial of federal benefits for up to one year for a first conviction and up to five years for subsequent convictions. In addition, for crimes punishable by more than one year in prison, the person convicted will forfeit personal or real property related to the violation, including houses, cars, and other personal belongings, or vehicles, boats or other conveyance used to transport or conceal controlled substances Finally, persons convicted are ineligible to receive or purchase a firearm.

State Law. Crimes involving controlled substances are felonies punishable by substantial prison terms and/or fines, with enhanced penalties if controlled substances are sold to persons under 18 years of age or within a three-mile radius of campus boundaries of a college or school. Possession of marijuana for personal use is a misdemeanor for the first offense but elevated to a felony for a second offense. Possessing drug paraphernalia is a misdemeanor but elevated to a more serious felony if sold to a person under 18 years of age. The Department of Public Safety will suspend a driver’s license for minimum of six months for persons convicted of a drug offense.

The possession of prescription drugs other than controlled substances in an unlabeled container or prescribed to one other than the person in possession is a misdemeanor under Alabama law.

Special Statement on Marijuana. The use of marijuana is legal in some states under state law but remains illegal under federal law. Any employee who while on or traveling on university business, including educational seminars, presentations, or the like, uses or consumes marijuana or any product or substance derived therefrom shall be deemed to have violated university policy the same extent had such conduct occurred in Alabama.