Frequently Asked Questions

What does ADAP do? Who can go?

The Alcohol and Drug Awareness Project (ADAP) is a component of the Health Services Department that provides counseling and education regarding substance use for students who are concerned about their drinking or use of other drugs, concerned about a friend's substance use, or concerned about a family member’s use. It is open to all students free of charge, and to faculty who are concerned about their students. 

Is ADAP confidential?

Yes. You can see more information about this here

What should I do if I commit a violation?

You can contact ADAP for more information by calling 413-538-2616 or emailing the department.


What really is a drink?

A standard drink in the United States has ½ oz. of pure alcohol. All of these count as standard drinks:  

What's in a Drink?

How does drinking affect me?

Alcohol intoxication can be detrimental to health for a variety of reasons including, but not limited to:

  • Impaired brain function resulting in poor judgment, reduced reaction time, loss of balance and motor skills, and/or slurred speech.
  • Dilation of blood vessels causing a feeling of warmth, but resulting in rapid loss of body heat.
  • Increased risk of certain cancers, stroke, and liver diseases such as, cirrhosis particularly when excessive amounts of alcohol are consumed over extended periods of time. 
  • Damage to a developing fetus if consumed by pregnant women.
  • Increased risk of motor-vehicle traffic crashes, violence and other injuries.
  • Coma and death can occur if alcohol is consumed rapidly and in large amounts due to depression of the central nervous system.

Why do people react differently to alcohol?

Individual reactions to alcohol vary, and are influenced by many factors, including but not limited to: 1 Age, gender, race or ethnicity, physical condition (weight, fitness level, etc.), amount of food consumed before drinking, how quickly the alcohol was consumed, use of drugs or prescription medicines, and family history of alcohol problems.

How do I know if it’s okay for me to drink?

It is not advised that you drink if you:

  • Are under 21 in the United States
  • Are pregnant or may be pregnant, or are breastfeeding
  • Planning to drive
  • Have a personal or family history of a substance use disorder

Is it okay to drink while on medication?

That depends on the medication. Alcohol interacts negatively with more than 150 medications. Check out our resources for more details on interactions with specific medications.  Always consult with your medical provider as to what may be the healthiest or safest option.  

What counts as binge drinking?

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism binge drinking is defined as a pattern of alcohol consumption that brings the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level to 0.08% or more. This pattern of drinking usually corresponds to 5 or more drinks on a single occasion for men or 4 or more drinks on a single occasion for women, generally within about 2 hours3.  You can find a BAC calculator in our resources.

How to tell if someone has a drinking problem

Sometimes it's tough to tell, but there are signs you can look for. You friend may have a problem if they are*:

  • Getting drunk on a regular basis
  • Having frequent hangovers
  • Lying about how much alcohol they are using
  • Believing that alcohol is necessary to have fun
  • Feeling run-down, depressed, or even suicidal
  • Having "blackouts" – forgetting what they did while drinking
  • Having problems at school or getting in trouble with the law
*Source: University of Oregon,


How fast can someone develop a problem with drugs?

If and how quickly you become addicted to a drug depends on many factors, including your biology (your genes, for example), age, gender, environment, and interactions among these factors. Vast differences characterize individual sensitivity to various drugs and to addiction vulnerability.

How do I know if someone is struggling with abuse?

If a person is compulsively seeking and using a drug(s) despite negative consequences, such as loss of job, debt, family problems, or physical problems brought on by drug abuse, then they may have a problem and/or are developing a problem. 


How does marijuana use affect me as a student?

Find out more about the effect of marijuana on school, work, and social life here

What will I feel if I smoke marijuana?

Some people feel nothing at all when they smoke marijuana. Others may feel relaxed or "high." Some experience sudden feelings of anxiety and paranoid thoughts. Its effects can be unpredictable, especially when mixed with other drugs.

Marijuana is just a plant. Is it really dangerous?

Yes, marijuana is a plant but it has real health consequences, including drug addiction.  While some people think marijuana is a “harmless drug,” actual experience and the real science show a different reality.  More young adults are in treatment with a primary diagnosis of marijuana use disorder than for all other illegal drugs combined.

Some people do not consider marijuana to be a harmful drug. Some believe marijuana cannot be harmful because it is "natural." But not all natural plants are good for you—take tobacco, for example.  See adverse effects below.

What are the adverse effects on health?

Acute /Short-term:

  • Increased heart rate

  • Impaired short-term memory, making learning and information retention difficult

  • Impaired motor coordination, including driving skills, increased risk of injury

  • Impaired judgment

  • In high doses, anxiety, paranoia and psychosis (dosing edibles can be particularly challenging)

Long-term or Heavy use:

  • Marijuana can be addictive. Research shows that about 9 percent, or about 1 in 11, of those who use marijuana will become addicted. This rate increases to 17 percent, or about 1 in 6, in people who start in their teens, and goes up to 25 to 50 percent among daily users.

  • Altered brain development (esp. with use in adolescence)

  • Poor educational outcome, increased likelihood of dropping out

  • Cognitive impairment, with lower IQ in frequent users during adolescence

  • Increased risk of chronic cough and respiratory inflammatory conditions (e.g., asthma, bronchitis, emphysema)

  • Increased risk of chronic psychosis disorders in persons with genetic vulnerability.

People often ask about the possible psychoactive effect of exposure to secondhand marijuana smoke and whether a person who has inhaled secondhand marijuana smoke could fail a drug test.  Research has been mixed involving variations between ventilated and non-ventilated room and potency of marijuana.  One study that varied the levels of ventilation and the potency of the marijuana found that some nonsmoking participants exposed for an hour to high-THC marijuana (11.3 percent THC concentration) in an unventilated room showed positive urine assays in the hours directly following exposure1; a follow-up study showed that nonsmoking people in a confined space with people smoking high-THC marijuana reported mild subjective effects of the drug—a "contact high"—and displayed mild impairments on performance in motor tasks.2


The known health risks of secondhand exposure to cigarette smoke—to the heart or lungs, for instance—raise questions about whether secondhand exposure to marijuana smoke poses similar health risks. At this point, very little research on this question has been conducted. A 2016 study in rats found that secondhand exposure to marijuana smoke affected a measure of blood vessel function as much as secondhand tobacco smoke, and the effects lasted longer.3 One minute of exposure to secondhand marijuana smoke impaired flow-mediated dilation (the extent to which arteries enlarge in response to increased blood flow) of the femoral artery that lasted for at least 90 minutes; impairment from 1 minute of secondhand tobacco exposure was recovered within 30 minutes. The effects of marijuana smoke were independent of THC concentration; i.e., when THC was removed, the impairment was still present. This research has not yet been conducted with human subjects, but the toxins and tar levels known to be present in marijuana smoke raise concerns about exposure among vulnerable populations, such as children and people with asthma.


  • Röhrich J, Schimmel I, Zörntlein S, et al. Concentrations of delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol and 11-nor-9-carboxytetrahydrocannabinol in blood and urine after passive exposure to Cannabis smoke in a coffee shop. J Anal Toxicol. 2010;34(4):196-203.

  • Cone EJ, Bigelow GE, Herrmann ES, et al. Non-smoker exposure to secondhand cannabis smoke. I. Urine screening and confirmation results. J Anal Toxicol. 2015;39(1):1-12. doi:10.1093/jat/bku116.


  • Wang X, Derakhshandeh R, Liu J, et al. One Minute of Marijuana Secondhand Smoke Exposure Substantially Impairs Vascular Endothelial Function. J Am Heart Assoc. 2016;5(8). doi:10.1161/JAHA.116.003858.

Can marijuana be addictive?

Marijuana can be addictive. Not everyone who smokes marijuana will become addicted—that depends on many factors, including your genes, the age you start using, whether you also use other drugs, your relationships with family and friends, success in school, and so on. Repeated marijuana use can lead to addiction, which means that people have trouble controlling their drug use and often cannot stop even though they want to. Research shows that about 9 percent, or about 1 in 11, of those who use marijuana will become addicted (Anthony, 1994; Lopez-Quintero, 2011). This rate increases to 17 percent, or about 1 in 6, in people who start in their teens, and goes up to 25 to 50 percent among daily users (Hall, 2009a; Hall, 2009b).

Anthony J, Warner LA, Kessler RC. Comparative epidemiology of dependence on tobacco, alcohol, controlled substances, and inhalants: basic findings from the National Comorbidity Survey. Exp Clin Psychopharmacol. 1994;2:244-268.

Lopez-Quintero C, Pérez de los Cobos J, Hasin DS, et al. Probability and predictors of transition from first use to dependence on nicotine, alcohol, cannabis, and cocaine: results of the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC). Drug Alcohol Depend. 2011;115(1-2):120-130.

Hall W, Degenhardt L. Adverse health effects of non-medical cannabis use. Lancet. 2009;374:1383-1391.

Hall W. The adverse health effects of cannabis use: what are they, and what are their implications for policy? Int J of Drug Policy. 2009;20:458-466.

Does marijuana provide withdrawal symptoms?

Yes. The symptoms are similar in type and severity to those of nicotine withdrawal—irritability, problems sleeping, anxiety, and cravings—peaking a few days after regular marijuana use has stopped. Withdrawal symptoms can make it hard for someone to stay off marijuana.

I’m concerned about my use or someone else’s use

Substance use can lead to consequences related to health, academics, employment, relationships, and Substance Use Disorders (S.U.D.).  If you and/or someone you know may be engaging in substance use that is of concern you can contact the Alcohol & Drug Awareness Program (A.D.A.P.) at 413-538-2616 or to schedule a free and confidential appointment.  A.D.A.P. , which is a component of MHC Health Services provides education, counseling and educational resources regarding substance use.  Students looking for more information, are concerned about their own use, concerned about another student’s use, looking for support regarding a loved one’s use, or are looking for support to maintain recovery are welcome to utilize A.D.A.P. services.  Services provided include, but are not limited to:  brief screening and intervention, substance use assessment, individual counseling, and harm reduction education.  

Where can I find medically accurate information?

National Institute on Drug Abuse (N.I.D.A.)  -

NIDA for Teens  -

National Institutes of Health (N.I.H.)  -

Partnership for Drug- Free Kids –

What is the policy regarding marijuana on campus?

The use, cultivation, manufacturing, sale, distribution and possession of marijuana is prohibited by the College and is not permitted in the residence halls, on any College property, or while on College business.  Therefore, you cannot be in possession or use it in your rooms, in College buildings, on the College grounds and adjacent property owned by Mount Holyoke College which would include areas like the Upper Lake woods, the Orchard’s Golf Course, and the Village Commons.

For the full Mount Holyoke College Alcohol and Drug Policy, please refer to this page

Is it legal for student to smoke off campus?

  • Marijuana is still a prohibited substance under Federal law (including the Controlled Substances Act, Drug-Free Workplace Act, Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act).  As an institution that receives federal funding, including for student financial aid, Mount Holyoke College remains committed to upholding federal law.

  • Under state law, beginning December 15, 2016, anyone who is at least 21 years old can possess and consume recreational marijuana. For those under 21, it will remain illegal under state law.  

  • Anyone under 21 attempting to purchase marijuana will be fined $100 and have to complete a drug awareness program. Law enforcement will also notify the parent/ guardian of anyone under 18 who attempts to purchase marijuana.

Can I have marijuana on campus?

No. You may not possess, use it or grow it on campus.  You cannot smoke or consume marijuana in public.  Marijuana use can be restricted in public buildings and school zones.   

In addition, no edible products, oils, and beverages containing marijuana is allowed. They will be treated in the same manner as any other form.

What about medical marijuana on campus?

Massachusetts has instituted legislation under Massachusetts Act (Chapter 369) “An Act for the Humanitarian Medical Use of Marijuana” which allows for the controlled use of medical marijuana in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Thus, citizens of the Commonwealth may legally obtain a medical marijuana “registration card” from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Mount Holyoke College students, staff, and faculty who legally possess a medical marijuana “registration card” are not permitted to possess and/or use any form of marijuana on Mount Holyoke College property or at college-sponsored events.

Although Massachusetts law permits the use of medical marijuana, federal laws outlined by the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) has classified marijuana as a Schedule I drug which prohibits the use, possession and/or cultivation of marijuana. Therefore, the use, possession, cultivation, or sale of marijuana in any form on campus violates federal law. Moreover, Mount  Holyoke College must comply with Drug-Free Communities and Schools Act (DFSCA) (20 U.S.C. 1011i; 34 C.F.R. part 86) as well as Drug Free Workplace Act which requires a drug-free environment on campus. Institutions of higher education such as Mount Holyoke College must comply with Drug-Free Communities and Schools Act regulations or risk losing federal funding such a financial aid. Any student, staff or faculty member who violates Mount Holyoke College policy prohibiting the use and/or possession of illicit drugs (including medical marijuana) on campus may be subject to disciplinary action.

(MHC Student Handbook 2017 pages 93-94)