At Tufts, we expect all students to follow substance use laws and policies on and off campus. We also acknowledge that people will choose to use substances and believe it is important to provide credible information about minimizing the risk of harm to students and their community. This page has basic information about substances and guidelines on how to stay safer if you choose to use them.


Alcohol is the most frequently used substance on campuses, and Tufts is no different. However, it is important to remember that not all Tufts students drink alcohol.  If you decide to drink, it is helpful to plan your night in advance and to drink in a thoughtful way. The following list can help you be more in control of your experience and in a better position to have fun safely.

Harm Reduction with Alcohol 

While not drinking is the safest choice, the following strategies can reduce possible negative consequences experienced when someone is drinking.

  • Decide how many drinks you’re going to have before going out
  • Keep track of how much you’re drinking throughout your time out, including when you move to a new location.
    • Tip: Some students use their phone to track drinks or simply move an object, like a penny, from one pocket to the other each time they have one standard drink. 
  • Eat and hydrate BEFORE and WHILE you drink alcohol 
    • Tip: Bring a refillable water bottle with you and snacks to share. 
  • Space out your drinks out over time
    • Tip: If you choose to have multiple drinks, stick to one drink per hour and alternate alcohol with water or non-alcoholic drinks. This will help you space the time between drinks and stay hydrated.  You can also use this anonymous  tool to help you think through spacing drinks based on information about you.
  • Never leave your drink unattended 
    • Tip: Once you have a drink, don’t set it down.
  • Don’t combine alcohol with energy drinks or other sources of caffeine
  • Don’t play drinking games
    • Tip: It can be very difficult to keep track of how much you’re drinking if you play a drinking game. Curious how your body is affected when you speed up your consumption? Try this interactive virtual bar
  • Do not combine alcohol with other substances
    • Tip: If you are on a daily medication like an antidepressant, anxiety medication, insulin, etc., check with your prescriber to understand your prescription’s interaction with alcohol. For more information, visit here.

Do you have a question about alcohol? You can submit it anonymously here.

Do you want to check in about your drinking through an anonymous screener?

Cannabis (Weed)

While Cannabis is legal in Massachusetts, it is against federal law to use cannabis on a college campus. It is important to consider how cannabis use impacts you from a policy standpoint in addition to its effects socially, academically, and physically.

To review Tufts policy on cannabis, click here

There is no standard dose of cannabis, the way there is with alcohol. While research is still developing, the following harm-reduction strategies are suggested if you choose to use weed:

  • Avoid anything over 10% THC.
  • Keep cannabis use to no more than 1 to 2 days a week, ideally on weekends only.
    • If you notice an impact on your attention, concentration, or memory, consider reducing your use or stopping. THREAD can help provide you with resources.
  • Pay attention to how you feel the next day.
  • If you need to drive, wait 6-8 hours after inhaling cannabis and 8-12 hours after taking an edible.
  • If you’re worried about your sleep, don’t use cannabis close to bed.
    • Research has shown that cannabis affects sleep quality. While cannabis may help you fall asleep, increases in daytime sleepiness, anxiety, irritability and jumpiness are frequently reported.
  • Stay mindful of how weed may be affecting school.

Remember: Everyone’s brain chemistry is different. There are many factors that can affect how you respond to cannabis, including any other medications or substances you take. 

Harm Reduction with Edibles

  • Start small and go slow
    • It can take up to four hours to feel the full effect of an edible. 
  • Pay attention to serving sizes
    • Double check the serving size and remember that two people can experience the effects of cannabis differently, so choose your dose based on you, not on others.
  • Do not mix edibles with other drugs
  • Be around people you know and trust.
    • Using weed with people you know and trust will affect your experience. You are more likely to have a positive experience if you are not feeling pressured or are in an environment you know well. 

Smoking Cannabis

Smoking cannabis is considered the most harmful route of administration because it directly affects your lungs. If you do choose to smoke, avoid deep inhales or holding your breath. These behaviors increase the amount of toxins absorbed into your lungs. 

For more information on the long term effects of cannabis use, you can visit the CDC website

Want to check in about your current use patterns through an anonymous screener?

Are you interested in decreasing your current use or taking a tolerance break? Make an appointment with THREAD or check out one of the following resources below:

T-Break Guide: A Guide to Help Support You on a Cannabis Tolerance Break 

Quitting Cannabis Workbook


Harm Reduction for Opioid Use

  • Never use alone
    • Take turns using a substance so someone can respond in case of an emergency. If this is not realistic, let someone know you are using and have them check on you. The MA Overdose Prevention Hotline (previously known as Never Use Alone) is available 24/7. To be with someone while you are getting high, you can call: 1 (800) 972-0590.
  • Test for fentanyl and carry naloxone
    • Fentanyl has largely taken over the illicit drug market because it is cheap and easier to transport in small volumes. It is very difficult to distinguish what does or does not have fentanyl, but these tools can help. You can visit THREAD for fentanyl test strips and naloxone. You have free access to these resources at Tufts and can request them here.
  • Start low and go slow
    • When opioid receptors are activated in our nervous system, breathing slows. If you may be using an intense opioid like fentanyl, it does not take much of the substance to depress breathing to dangerously low rates or to cease breathing entirely. 
  • Do not mix opioids with other substances
    • Alcohol and opioids are one example of a very dangerous combination. For more information about drug interactions, you can visit here.
  • Remember that opioid sobriety reduces tolerance 
    • If there has been any change in the frequency of your use, including a period of abstinence, and you return to using, use less than you previously would.

For more information on opioids and harm reduction:

The Grayken Center for Addiction Training and Technical Assistance at Boston Medical Center

NEXT Distro, Resources in Massachusetts

For more information on the illicit drug supply, visit One Pill Can Kill. 

Want to check in about your current prescription drug use patterns through an anonymous screener?

If you would like to learn more about opioid treatment options in Massachusetts, visit here. You can also set up a meeting with THREAD to talk through your options.

Tobacco and Nicotine 

What can I do if I want to decrease my current use or quit altogether?

Smoking cessation is the most beneficial for your health. Decreasing your current level of cigarettes OR switching to an e-cigarette may help if you have a longer history of smoking and are experiencing trouble quitting. 

If you are interested in decreasing your use of nicotine, making an appointment with Health Service can help. 

To try other types of support, visit the following resources, which include phone based apps:

Massachusetts Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Program (MTCP)

Truth Initiative, Inspiring lives free from smoking, vaping & nicotine Apps