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Substance Abuse Guidelines

For Student Majors That Include A Clinical Component In The Curriculum

Drexel University has an established policy that prescribes the standards of conduct expected of students and members of the University community. This standard of conduct includes the prohibition of the use or the possession or dissemination of narcotics or other mind-altering drugs, other than those medically prescribed, properly used, and in the original container, by students while representing the College. The policy can be found within the Code of Conduct located at

The University has established disciplinary proceedings for when a student is charged or violates the drug and alcohol control guidelines. However, when a student violates the drug and alcohol guidelines and is enrolled in a major that includes a clinical health care component in the curriculum, it is incumbent upon the administration and faculty of the College of Nursing and Health Professions to provide oversight and remedial action for such a serious act by the student.

The University recognizes that drug abuse/dependence is a disease that is chronic, progressive, and if left untreated, fatal. The University can be supportive of a student receiving treatment and once sustained recovery is obtained, the student may seek re-admission. To request accommodations of a disability based on a history of substance abuse, contact the Office of Equality and Diversity at

The purpose of these Substance Abuse Guidelines is to inform students enrolled in the College of Nursing and Health Professions, who are also enrolled in a major that includes a clinical health care component, about the guidelines and procedures related to any unlawful use, manufacture, distribution, or possession of controlled or illegal substances or alcohol. Aside from seriously affecting the physical and psychological integrity of the user, substance abuse may significantly affect the ability of students to administer safe care to patients entrusted to them in a clinical health care setting.

These guidelines assist the student in maintaining personal and professional integrity, and facilitate the student’s success in their CNHP education. It promotes a healthy teaching/learning environment for the student and in the clinical setting ensures patient safety. It also fosters the development of a professional who is aware of and considers the prevalence and adverse physical, psychological, and social outcomes of substance abuse.

These guidelines apply to all students who have confirmed acceptance in any of Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions programs that include a clinical health care component in its curriculum.

Students are required to have a standardized drug screen prior to entering the clinical environment. This is typically a 10-panel urine drug test and the results are expected to return negative for any of the tested drugs, as well as negative for adulteration or dilution of the specimen. A positive drug screen of an illegal substance (illegal substance or controlled substance without a prescription) or intoxication from alcohol may result in dismissal from the student’s program of study.

Any unlawful possession, use, manufacture or distribution of controlled or illegal substances or alcohol by any student in the College enrolled in a program that includes a clinical health care component in its curriculum while in academic sites, labs or at a clinical site shall be considered substance abuse or possible dependency and may constitute cause for termination from the program. Students must also comply with all local, state or federal laws and regulations controlling the possession, manufacture, use, or distribution of controlled or illegal substances and alcohol. CNHP reserves the discretion under extenuating circumstances to revisit the terms of these guidelines.

All students must also comply with Drexel University guidelines on alcohol and drug use. These guidelines can be found in the Code of Conduct online at:

In addition, there are circumstances in which students may need to take over-the-counter or prescribed medications that may impair their ability to function safely in the clinical environment and thereby endanger patients and self. As such, all students are responsible for being aware of the effect these medications may have on their ability to function safely in the clinical practicum and must notify the Program Chair regarding the use of any medication that can impair performance prior to entering the clinical environment. Failure to do so may result in disciplinary action. In such circumstances, the student is encouraged to request medical leave from their studies.


I. Education
An objective within these substance abuse guidelines is to educate students about the risk of dependency among health care providers, enhance their ability to recognize impaired health care professionals, and reinforce the significance of appropriate intervention. Through selected courses, students will be educated about behavioral and clinical practice characteristics that are common indicators of substance abuse. Students will also acquire an understanding of the Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions Substance Abuse Guidelines and procedures guidelines.

II. Drug/Alcohol Testing
A student in the College may be required to undergo drug or alcohol testing when the Program Chair, or designee, determines through direct observation or reports received from faculty or clinical supervisors and there is reasonable suspicion that the student is impaired due to illegal drug or alcohol use, the use or misuse of prescribed over-the-counter medications based upon, but not limited to:

A.  Unusual or aberrant behavior
B.  Physical symptoms indicative of being under the influence
C.  Patterns of abnormal or erratic behavior
D.  Inconsistent quality of work performance
E.  Conviction for drug-related offenses
F.  Being identified as the subject of a drug-related criminal investigation
G.  Credible information from independent sources
H.  Evidence of drug tampering or misappropriation
I.   Consistently discrepant daily drug counts
J.  Accidents or illnesses caused by substance abuse
K.  Impairment or intoxication in the clinical and/or didactic setting
L.  Patterns of absenteeism and/or lateness
M.  Alterations in student clinical and/or didactic performance that may not be attributed to other causes
N.  Following a work-related injury or illness
O.  Observation of poor judgment or careless acts which caused or had the potential to cause patient injury, jeopardize the safety of self or others, or resulted in damage to equipment

A faculty member suspecting possible substance abuse by a student must report the suspicious behavior immediately to the Program Chair or designee. (See Appendix 1).

Once the Program Chair is notified that a student has been suspected of violating the substance abuse guidelines, the student will be instructed to report to the designated testing laboratory in accordance with the Program Chair’s instructions, which will take into consideration a safe mode of transportation given the suspected level of impairment of the student. The cost of any drug or alcohol testing requested by the Program Chair will be borne by the program. The Program Chair has the authority to temporarily remove the student from the clinical practicum pending the final results of any drug or alcohol tests.

Clinical education/practicum sites may also require that students undergo drug/alcohol testing prior to placement or during clinical rotations at the site. Therefore, students may also be tested in accordance with the clinical training site’s guidelines.

A student convicted of or arrested for violating any federal, state or local law or regulation pertaining to the manufacture, possession, sale, use or distribution of a drug or alcohol or misuse of prescribed or over-the-counter medications must report this conviction or arrest to the Program Chair within five days of the conviction or arrest.

Failure or refusal to comply with any aspect of the substance abuse guidelines may impact academic progression. Examples of noncompliance include, but are not limited to, refusal to submit to immediate drug and alcohol testing or repeat testing, tampering or altering of specimens, attempts to submit the samples of another person as the student’s own, and failure to appropriately complete associated program or testing laboratory documents.

Testing Procedure
Drug and alcohol testing required by the College will be conducted utilizing the following measures:

A.  The student must be tested at a laboratory designated and approved by the College of Nursing and Health Professions. The student may be asked to provide a witnessed sample.
B.  The student will sign the chain of custody forms and any other documents provided by the testing laboratory.
C.  The test shall screen for the use of the controlled substances listed below:

1. Amphetamine (methamphetamine)
2. Barbiturates
3. Benzodiazepine
4. Cocaine
5. Marijuana
6. Methadone
7. Methaqualone
8. Opiates (Codeine, Morphine)
9. Phencyclidine
10. Propoxyphene

In addition, a student could be tested for any other controlled substances that are suspected of being abused or used by the student. Affiliation agreements may require additional substance screenings

D.  Urine, serum, hair and saliva analysis or a combination of these testing methods may be utilized.
E.  The student must fully comply with the testing laboratory's methods and procedures for collecting samples.
F.  If the student disputes the accuracy of a positive test, the student may request a re-testing of original sample by the laboratory, however the cost of the additional testing would be borne by the student. This re-test must take place within one week.
G.  Substance abuse is verified if either: (i) the positive test result is not disputed or (ii) if the student-requested re-test is positive.
H.  The testing laboratory will make a final report of the test results (positive, negative or inconclusive) to the Program Chair or designee and any designated affiliate site as required.

The requirement that a student be tested as well as the test results will remain confidential and disclosed only to those individuals within Drexel University as well as any licensing, registering, or certification boards that have a need to know. An affiliated clinical site with a need to know or as required by law or regulation will also be notified.

Upon written request, students will be provided a copy of test results.

III. Documentation
Appropriate documentation will commence at the time of the initial suspicion that a student may have a substance abuse problem and will include the rationale for such suspicion.

All documentation regarding drug testing results and a student’s medical condition will remain in a secure location in the custody of the Program Chair or CNHP Compliance Department. Such records will be maintained separately from the student’s permanent program file.

IV. Impact on Clinical Standing
CNHP will refer a student with a positive test result to Residential Living and Student Conduct (RLSC) at Drexel University for possible disciplinary action in accordance with the Student Code of Conduct.

Nursing students with a positive test result may also be referred to the Nursing and/or Student Conduct Committee within CNHP. Health Professions students who have a positive test result, additional academic decision may be made at the discretion of the Program Chair. The Program Chair has the authority to temporarily remove the student from the clinical practicum. Dependent on where the student is within their plan of study, the time away from their academic program can vary. In addition, if the student has a professional license, the College is obligated to report the results to the licensing agency.

If as a result of a positive test, a student is required to submit to subsequent testing as a condition to remaining in or returning to the Program, the student will bear the expense of all subsequent testing required by the Program. The student is required to provide a witnessed sample.

Failure or refusal to comply with any aspect of the substance abuse guidelines will be reported to Residential Living and Student Conduct (RLSC) at Drexel University for possible disciplinary action in accordance with the Student Code of Conduct. In addition, any perceived attempts to tamper with the testing procedure or results will be reported to such committees as well.

Students will be informed of counseling and other treatment resources that are available to the student.

V. Treatment and Counseling Resources
Students who are concerned that they may have a substance or alcohol abuse problem are encouraged to seek appropriate assessment, treatment and counseling from qualified health care professionals.

The following website lists some local treatment and counseling services that are available to students:

At all times, it is incumbent upon the student to make the decision not to attend a clinical assignment if he/she feels impaired and will present a risk to patients.

VI. Re-entry into the Academic and Clinical Environment
A student who has been dismissed, administratively removed, withdrawn or taken an approved leave of absence from the Program due to substance abuse may be eligible to re-enter the Program in certain circumstances. A student in recovery who is permitted to re-enter the program will comply with the conditions of readmission delineated in a signed contract of program re-entry.

Factors that have been identified as helpful for re-entry into practice include 12-step program participation, random drug screens, and sponsorship on a peer-assisted support group. The student may be requested to provide medical clearance from the appropriate individual coordinating the therapeutic intervention. If the student is a licensed nurse, they must provide evidence of a current, active nursing licensure if enrolled in the MSN, DNP, or PhD Nursing Program.

A student in active recovery from substance abuse will be monitored closely particularly in clinical practice. A Program and student contract with guidelines and expectations will be developed and signed by both parties. Frequent evaluations will be mandated and stipulated in the contract delineating the contingencies of programmatic return.

A student in recovery should be aware that their state licensing or certifying bodies may not allow students to take qualifying, licensing, or certification examinations. Students should refer to requirements with the applicable licensing board.