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Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs

Drinking, smoking and other drug use are not uncommon human activities. Although fewer and fewer college students are cigarette smokers, “party” culture – especially drinking – is alive and well. Alcohol and other drugs have varying degrees of social and legal acceptance and varying levels of risk. Risks and effects depend on many factors including the drug itself, use patterns, biology and heredity, and interactions with other drugs. For some people, the best choice is abstinence; others can manage some level of moderation. The more you know, the better prepared you are to make the best decisions for yourself.

Substance Abuse

The World Health Organization describes substance abuse as the harmful or hazardous use of psychoactive substances, including alcohol and illicit drugs. If your use – or a friend’s – rises to the level of harmful or hazardous, and this happens often, you may have a problem.

To learn more about specific drugs and their risks and effects, visit these trusted sites:


Though tobacco use has declined significantly over the past couple of decades, there are still many students who smoke. Quitting smoking is the single best thing you can do for your health and the positive effects begin immediately. Quit & Win is NYU’s individualized, no-cost, confidential coaching program to help students quit. Learn more here.  For a quick reference guide to dealing with the urge to smoke, click here (PDF).

E-cigarette use (aka "vaping") is increasing and its safety is unclear. Although e-cigarettes may be a less harmful alternative to smoking, and are promoted as a way to quit smoking, they do contain nicotine (a stimulant which is also found in cigarettes). More research is needed to understand the risk benefit balance of these products.

Students in Recovery

If you are in recovery, congratulations on coming this far! Being a student and being in recovery can be challenging. Finding and enlisting support is important. Buddy up with friends who are sober, attend some of the free substance-free events offered through NYU – LiveWellNYU is a good place to start – or host your own with PAWS funding. NYU also offers individual and group counseling.