Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention Program

Updated February 21, 2012

Part 1 - RCC Policy on Alcohol and Other Drugs

Part 2 - Legal Implications of Using Drugs and Alcohol

Part 3 - Information on the Health Effects of Using Drugs and Alcohol

Part 4 - Area Resources for Substance Abuse Treatment


Excerpt from the RCC Student Handbook

Effective 12/3/2010


It is the policy of Rockford Career College to promote a campus environment that is free of drug and alcohol abuse. In order to ensure a safe, secure and healthy environment for its community and to comply with its obligations under the federal Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act, Rockford Career College prohibits students and employees from unlawfully possessing, using, consuming, purchasing, distributing, manufacturing, dispensing, or selling on the College's premises or as a part of any of the College's activities: 1) illicit substances; 2) drug paraphernalia; 3) lawful controlled substances, except as medically authorized and used in accordance with their prescriptions; and 4) alcohol. Federal and state laws, and Rockford Career College policy, prohibit the sale, re-sale, possession, use or distribution of any controlled substances or prescription medication. The sole exception to this policy is the use of prescribed medications by the patient for whom the medication was prescribed where such medication is used only as directed by the physician who prescribed the medication.

Students or employees found in violation of this policy are subject to serious College disciplinary action such as suspension or dismissal from the College or employment termination and arrests under the state and federal laws.

The College will facilitate referral to treatment for drug and alcohol abuse as appropriate.

Medications used at the College must be stored, taken, and/or disposed of properly and according to safe and acceptable medical practices. Prescription drugs need to be carried in the prescription bottle with a proper prescription label.

The College has the authority to search any person, personal property, room or area of the campus where there is reason to believe that established standards of conduct or health and safety regulations are being violated, or when there is reason to believe that illegal drugs/substances may be stored, used, sold or otherwise distributed.

Rockford Career College will notify the Rockford City Police Department whenever drugs or drug-paraphernalia are found on a person or his/her belongings on campus. Therefore, in addition to College-related disciplinary action, students or employees violating drug policies risk arrest and prosecution for violations of drug-related laws by city, state, or federal offices.

Violations of this policy will be processed through the provisions of the Rockford Career College Student Code by the Dean of Students or an appointed member of the College administration.

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Legal Implications of Using Drugs and Alcohol

Source: Rockford College Website, http://www.rockford.edu/?page=DrugsAlcohol

The following criminal penalties are applicable to the identified categories of offenses:

Illinois Law
In Illinois, it is against the law to sell or deliver alcohol to anyone under 21 (twenty-one), or to any intoxicated person [235 ILCS 5/6-16]. Violations can result in fines of up to $1,000 and one year in jail.

It is also illegal for a person under 21 to present false identification in an attempt to purchase alcohol, to purchase, accept delivery or have possession of alcohol, or to consume alcohol. [235 ILCS 5/6-20] Violation of the law is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison.

Recent legislation signed by the Governor provides further penalties: (1) The Secretary of State is authorized to suspend or revoke without a hearing the driver's license or instruction permit of a person under 21 who has purchased or attempted to purchase alcohol from a duly licensed establishment or who has consumed alcohol on licensed premises. (2) Local liquor commissioners have the duty to report to the Secretary of State any conviction for a violation of the Liquor Control Act, or a similar provision of a local ordinance, prohibiting a person under 21 from purchasing, accepting, possessing, or consuming alcohol and prohibiting the transfer or alteration of identification cards, the use of the identification card of another or a false or forged identification card, or the use of false information to obtain an identification card. (3) The Secretary of State is authorized to suspend or revoke the driver's license or learner's permit of any person convicted of violating any of the prohibitions listed above in "(2)" or similar provisions of local ordinances.

Substantial penalties exist in Illinois for the operation of a motor vehicle by a driver with a blood or breath alcohol concentration of .08 or greater. Arrests are also possible at lower alcohol levels if driving is impaired. The first offense can result in a $1,000 fine, incarceration for up to one year, and suspension or revocation of the offender's driver's license. Subsequent offenses entail penalties of significantly greater severity. Transporting open alcohol containers in a motor vehicle is also punishable under Illinois law.

Possession and delivery of illicit drugs are prohibited in Illinois through the Cannabis Control Act [740 ILCS 40/0.01 et seq.] and the Controlled Substances Act [720 ILCS 570/100 et seq. and 720 ILCS 570/401 et seq.]. Penalties vary with the amount of the drug confiscated; the type of drug found; the number of previous offenses by the individual; and whether the individual intended to manufacture, sell, or use the drug. A first-time conviction of possession of a controlled substance can result in a one- to three-year prison sentence, plus a fine of up to $15,000. More severe penalties may be imposed for conviction of class 2, 3, or 4 felonies involving manufacture or delivery to a minor.

Vehicles used with knowledge of the owner in the commission of any offense prohibited by the Cannabis Control Act or Controlled Substances Act can be seized by the government; all ownership rights are forfeited.

Federal Law
Under the revised federal sentencing guidelines, federal courts can sentence simple-possession first offenders to one year in prison and a $100,000 fine. Penalties for subsequent convictions are significantly greater [21 U.S.C. 844(a)]. A sentence of life imprisonment can result from a conviction for possession of a controlled substance that results in death or bodily injury. Possession of more than five grams of cocaine can trigger an intent-to-distribute penalty of ten to sixteen years in prison [U.S.S.G.S. 2D2.1(b)(1)].

Above excerpt used with permission of University of Illinois Urbana – Champaign, Division of Public Safety

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Fact Sheets: Alcohol Use and Health

There are approximately 79,000 deaths attributable to excessive alcohol use each year in the United States.1 This makes excessive alcohol use the 3rd leading lifestyle-related cause of death for the nation.2 Additionally, excessive alcohol use is responsible for 2.3 million years of potential life lost (YPLL) annually, or an average of about 30 years of potential life lost for each death. In the single year 2005, there were more than 1.6 million hospitalizations3 and more than 4 million emergency room visits4 for alcohol-related conditions.

The Standard Measure of Alcohol
In the United States, a standard drink is any drink that contains 0.6 ounces (14.0 grams or 1.2 tablespoons) of pure alcohol. Generally, this amount of pure alcohol is found in

  • 12-ounces of regular beer or wine cooler.
  • 8-ounces of malt liquor.
  • 5-ounces of wine.
  • 1.5-ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits or liquor (e.g., gin, rum, vodka, whiskey).

Definitions of Patterns of Drinking Alcohol

  • Binge drinking
    • For women, 4 or more drinks during a single occasion
    • For men, 5 or more drinks during a single occasion
  • Heavy drinking
    • For women, more than 1 drink per day on average
    • For men, more than 2 drinks per day on average

Excessive drinking includes heavy drinking, binge drinking or both.

Most people who binge drink are not alcoholics or alcohol dependent.5

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, if you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation, which is defined as no more than 1 drink per day for women and no more than 2 drinks per day for men.6 However, there are some persons who should not drink any alcohol, including those who are

  • Pregnant or trying to become pregnant.
  • Taking prescription or over-the-counter medications that may cause harmful reactions when mixed with alcohol.
  • Younger than age 21.
  • Recovering from alcoholism or are unable to control the amount they drink.
  • Suffering from a medical condition that may be worsened by alcohol.
  • Driving, planning to drive, or participating in other activities requiring skill, coordination, and alertness.

Immediate Health Risks

Excessive alcohol use has immediate effects that increase the risk of many harmful health conditions. These immediate effects are most often the result of binge drinking and include the following—

  • Unintentional injuries, including traffic injuries, falls, drownings, burns, and unintentional firearm injuries.7
  • Violence, including intimate partner violence and child maltreatment. About 35% of victims report that offenders are under the influence of alcohol.8 Alcohol use is also associated with 2 out of 3 incidents of intimate partner violence.8 Studies have also shown that alcohol is a leading factor in child maltreatment and neglect cases, and is the most frequent substance abused among these parents.9
  • Risky sexual behaviors, including unprotected sex, sex with multiple partners, and increased risk of sexual assault. These behaviors can result in unintended pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases.10, 11
  • Miscarriage and stillbirth among pregnant women, and a combination of physical and mental birth defects among children that last throughout life.12, 13
  • Alcohol poisoning, a medical emergency that results from high blood alcohol levels that suppress the central nervous system and can cause loss of consciousness, low blood pressure and body temperature, coma, respiratory depression, or death.14

Long-Term Health Risks

Over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to the development of chronic diseases, neurological impairments and social problems. These include but are not limited to—

  • Neurological problems, including dementia, stroke and neuropathy.15, 16
  • Cardiovascular problems, including myocardial infarction, cardiomyopathy, atrial fibrillation and hypertension.17
  • Psychiatric problems, including depression, anxiety, and suicide.18
  • Social problems, including unemployment, lost productivity, and family problems.19, 20
  • Cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, colon, and breast.21 In general, the risk of cancer increases with increasing amounts of alcohol.
  • Liver diseases, including—
    • Alcoholic hepatitis.
    • Cirrhosis, which is among the 15 leading causes of all deaths in the United States.22
    • Among persons with Hepatitis C virus, worsening of liver function and interference with medications used to treat this condition.23
  • Other gastrointestinal problems, including pancreatitis and gastritis.24, 25

For References, see: http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/alcohol-use.htm


InfoFacts: Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction

Many people do not understand why or how other people become addicted to drugs. It can be wrongfully assumed that drug abusers lack moral principles or willpower and that they could stop using drugs simply by choosing to change their behavior. In reality, drug addiction is a complex disease, and quitting takes more than good intentions. In fact, because drugs change the brain in ways that foster compulsive drug abuse, quitting is difficult, even for those who are ready to do so. Through scientific advances, we know more about how drugs work in the brain than ever, and we also know that drug addiction can be successfully treated to help people stop abusing drugs and lead productive lives.

Drug abuse and addiction have negative consequences for individuals and for society. Estimates of the total overall costs of substance abuse in the United States, including productivity and health- and crime-related costs, exceed $600 billion annually. This includes approximately $181 billion for illicit drugs,1 $193 billion for tobacco,2 and $235 billion for alcohol.3 As staggering as these numbers are, they do not fully describe the breadth of destructive public health and safety implications of drug abuse and addiction, such as family disintegration, loss of employment, failure in school, domestic violence, and child abuse.

What Is Drug Addiction?

Addiction is a chronic, often relapsing brain disease that causes compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences to the addicted individual and to those around him or her. Although the initial decision to take drugs is voluntary for most people, the brain changes that occur over time challenge a person's self-control and ability to resist intense impulses urging them to take drugs.

Fortunately, treatments are available to help people counter addiction's powerful disruptive effects. Research shows that combining addiction treatment medications with behavioral therapy is the best way to ensure success for most patients. Treatment approaches that are tailored to each patient's drug abuse patterns and any co-occurring medical, psychiatric, and social problems can lead to sustained recovery and a life without drug abuse.

Similar to other chronic, relapsing diseases, such as diabetes, asthma, or heart disease, drug addiction can be managed successfully. And as with other chronic diseases, it is not uncommon for a person to relapse and begin abusing drugs again. Relapse, however, does not signal treatment failure—rather, it indicates that treatment should be reinstated, adjusted, or that an alternative treatment is needed to help the individual regain control and recover.

What Happens to Your Brain When You Take Drugs?

Drugs contain chemicals that tap into the brain's communication system and disrupt the way nerve cells normally send, receive, and process information. There are at least two ways that drugs cause this disruption: (1) by imitating the brain's natural chemical messengers and (2) by over stimulating the "reward circuit" of the brain.

Some drugs (e.g., marijuana and heroin) have a similar structure to chemical messengers called neurotransmitters, which are naturally produced by the brain. This similarity allows the drugs to "fool" the brain's receptors and activate nerve cells to send abnormal messages.

Other drugs, such as cocaine or methamphetamine, can cause the nerve cells to release abnormally large amounts of natural neurotransmitters (mainly dopamine) or to prevent the normal recycling of these brain chemicals, which is needed to shut off the signaling between neurons. The result is a brain awash in dopamine, a neurotransmitter present in brain regions that control movement, emotion, motivation, and feelings of pleasure. The overstimulation of this reward system, which normally responds to natural behaviors linked to survival (eating, spending time with loved ones, etc.), produces euphoric effects in response to psychoactive drugs. This reaction sets in motion a reinforcing pattern that "teaches" people to repeat the rewarding behavior of abusing drugs.

As a person continues to abuse drugs, the brain adapts to the overwhelming surges in dopamine by producing less dopamine or by reducing the number of dopamine receptors in the reward circuit. The result is a lessening of dopamine's impact on the reward circuit, which reduces the abuser's ability to enjoy the drugs, as well as the events in life that previously brought pleasure. This decrease compels the addicted person to keep abusing drugs in an attempt to bring the dopamine function back to normal, except now larger amounts of the drug are required to achieve the same dopamine high—an effect known as tolerance.

Long-term abuse causes changes in other brain chemical systems and circuits as well. Glutamate is a neurotransmitter that influences the reward circuit and the ability to learn. When the optimal concentration of glutamate is altered by drug abuse, the brain attempts to compensate, which can impair cognitive function. Brain imaging studies of drug-addicted individuals show changes in areas of the brain that are critical to judgment, decision-making, learning and memory, and behavior control. Together, these changes can drive an abuser to seek out and take drugs compulsively despite adverse, even devastating consequences—that is the nature of addiction.

Why Do Some People Become Addicted While Others Do Not?

No single factor can predict whether a person will become addicted to drugs. Risk for addiction is influenced by a combination of factors that include individual biology, social environment, and age or stage of development. The more risk factors an individual has, the greater the chance that taking drugs can lead to addiction. For example:

  • Biology. The genes that people are born with––in combination with environmental influences––account for about half of their addiction vulnerability. Additionally, gender, ethnicity, and the presence of other mental disorders may influence risk for drug abuse and addiction.
  • Environment. A person's environment includes many different influences, from family and friends to socioeconomic status and quality of life in general. Factors such as peer pressure, physical and sexual abuse, stress, and quality of parenting can greatly influence the occurrence of drug abuse and the escalation to addiction in a person's life.
  • Development. Genetic and environmental factors interact with critical developmental stages in a person's life to affect addiction vulnerability. Although taking drugs at any age can lead to addiction, the earlier that drug use begins, the more likely it will progress to more serious abuse, which poses a special challenge to adolescents. Because their brains are still developing in the areas that govern decision-making, judgment, and self-control, adolescents may be especially prone to risk-taking behaviors, including trying drugs of abuse.

Prevention Is the Key

Drug addiction is a preventable disease. Results from NIDA-funded research have shown that prevention programs involving families, schools, communities, and the media are effective in reducing drug abuse. Although many events and cultural factors affect drug abuse trends, when youths perceive drug abuse as harmful, they reduce their drug taking. Thus, education and outreach are key in helping youth and the general public understand the risks of drug abuse. Teachers, parents, medical and public health professionals must keep sending the message that drug addiction can be prevented if one never abuses drugs.

Other Information Sources

For information on understanding drug abuse and addiction, please see our booklet, Drugs, Brains, and Behavior—The Science of Addiction.

For more information on prevention, please visit our Prevention Research information page.

For more information on treatment, please visit our Treatment Research information page.

To find a publicly funded treatment center in your State, please call 1-800-662-HELP or visit www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov.


  1. Office of National Drug Control Policy (2004). The Economic Costs of Drug Abuse in the United States, 1992-2002. Washington, DC: Executive Office of the President (Publication No. 207303). Available at www.ncjrs.gov/ondcppubs/publications/pdf/economic_costs.pdf (PDF, 2.4MB)
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Best Practices for Comprehensive Tobacco Control Programs—2007. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/stateandcommunity/best_practices/pdfs/2007/bestpractices_complete.pdf (PDF 1.4MB).
  3. Rehm, J., Mathers, C., Popova, S., Thavorncharoensap, M., Teerawattananon Y., Patra, J. Global burden of disease and injury and economic cost attributable to alcohol use and alcohol-use disorders. Lancet, 373(9682):2223–2233, 2009.

Additional substance abuse prevention resource links:

The Effects of Drugs and Alcohol on Academic Life

How alcohol affects body organs

Interactive body—showing organ damage from alcohol abuse

Drug Guide and Self-Assessment Quiz, The Partnership at Drug Free.org

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Area Resources for Substance Abuse

3522 Greendale Drive
Rockford IL 61108
Phone: (815) 391-5095

Al Tech Services Inc.
Drug and Alcohol Outpatient Treatment
2233 Charles Street
Rockford IL 61104
Phone: (815) 397-3606

BAC Bunting's Assessment Center
2323 Charles Street
Rockford IL 61104
Phone: (815) 397-3609

Rockford Area Alcoholics Anonymous Office
4040 Charles Street
Suite 210
Rockford, IL 61108
Helpline is available 24/7

Rock River Area Narcotics Anonymous
24 Hour Helpline 815-964-5959
Toll Free 1-888-656-7329
Website for meeting locations: http://rragsna.org/meetings.html

Celebrate Recovery
Heartland Church
1280 S. Alpine
Rockford, IL

Please see the Student Services Director, Cira Guevara, for assistance with finding treatment resources:
Phone: 815-967-7336
Email: cguevara@rockfordcareercollege.edu

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