While on your program, you are responsible for obeying local laws and the UW-Madison Code of Conduct, including the expectations outlined in UWS Chapter 17. Illegal, irresponsible drinking and/or misbehaving while drinking are violations of the University’s policy.
UW-Madison has a no tolerance approach to illegal drug use. Students using drugs may immediately be removed from the program at their own cost.
Know and Obey the Laws of the Country
Many countries do not have a legal drinking age, although frequently one must be 18 to purchase liquor, and it is not uncommon for young adults to have beer or wine with a meal. Alcohol is strictly prohibited in most Muslim-majority countries and in some parts of India. U.S. citizens have been detained for possessing alcohol in their luggage upon arrival in some Muslim countries. Laws and penalties in many countries are more severe than in the U.S.
Existing legislation in most foreign countries regarding the use or possession of marijuana, cocaine, and other illegal drugs imposes severe penalties including jail terms, hard labor, and even the death penalty. Association with illegal drug users or possessors is considered the same as personal use or possession by authorities in some countries. If arrested, you are subject to the host country’s laws and neither the UW-Madison nor the U.S. Embassy can protect you from the local legal consequences.
You are representing yourself but also your program, the U.S., and UW-Madison. Your actions will reflect either positively or negatively on many people.
If You Choose to Consume, Do So in Moderation
Avoid underage and excessive alcohol consumption. Wine, beer, and liquor may have a higher alcohol content than is customary in the U.S. This could lead to overconfidence in judging the number and volume of drinks. Overindulging in alcohol can lead to blackouts, injury, assault, abuse, reckless behavior, impaired judgment and decision-making, long-term health consequences, and death. Your consumption of alcohol or another drug, and/or your behavior while under the influence, may be considered criminal activities by local authorities as well as violate University conduct policies.
In some locations, cultural traditions may involve multiple shots of liquor with high alcohol content. Locals may have become accustomed to this, but visitors usually are not. In these, and other drinking customs, be cautious in attempting to keep pace with your hosts, who have likely practiced their national traditions for years. This level of inebriation can lead to cultural misunderstandings, ruined friendships, alcohol poisoning, or put you at greater risk of being the victim of a crime.
Don’t Let Your Drink Out of Your Sight
Drinks/food can be spiked with a knockout agent like rohypnol or GHB. These substances are also sometimes referred to as “date rape drugs” and are commonly used to assist in sexual assaults and robberies. They act quickly and cause you to become weak and confused. Always keep your drink/food within your sight.
Drinking alcohol can seem deceptively harmless, especially when you travel to countries where attitudes, customs, and the drinking age may be different from the U.S. Nevertheless, excessive alcohol consumption impairs your judgment and can lead to disruptive behavior and risk of harm to yourself and to others, in addition to poor academic performance. You should never feel pressured to drink if you do not want to or feel embarrassed to order non-alcoholic beverages.