Alcohol and Other Substances Policy

The overarching priority of the College with respect to alcohol and drugs is to help ensure the safety and well-being of Bowdoin students while complying with all applicable federal, state, and local laws. As part of its educational mission, the College is committed to reducing substance abuse, enhancing the development of responsible behavior regarding the consumption of alcoholic beverages, and devising policies and educational information that will reduce dangerous drinking.   

The College aims to improve students’ understanding of the risks associated with alcohol and drug abuse. College policies and procedures also reflect additional expectations for student conduct based on the College's concerns about high-risk drinking behaviors, such as binge drinking and the rapid or competitive consumption of alcohol, and their many adverse consequences for students' health and lives. Those students concerned about their own substance use or worried about a friend can seek assistance in a number of places on campus including Health Services, the Counseling Center, the Office of the Dean of Students, and the Office of Residential Life. 

Ultimately, this policy is intended to honor both the rights of the individual and the standards of the community. The following informs students about relevant state and federal laws, Bowdoin’s rules associated with alcohol and drug use, and the physical and medical consequences of alcohol and drug use.  

Bowdoin’s primary concern is the health and safety of its students. Students are urged not only to take care of their own well-being, but to behave in an equally responsible way with their peers. There may be times when health and safety concerns arise from a student’s excessive drinking or drug use, and in these situations, students should not hesitate, out of fear of disciplinary action, to seek help from Bowdoin Security, Residential Life Student Staff, medical or counseling professionals, and/or local or state police. Students reporting concerns arising from another student’s alcohol or drug use will generally not be held responsible for actions connected to the reported incident, that might constitute a violation of the Code of Community Standards, as long as their actions did not put another individual or the community at risk. 


Alcohol is a drug that is absorbed into the bloodstream and transmitted to virtually all parts of the body. It is a depressant that causes a number of changes in behavior, though particular effects vary among individuals. Even one or two drinks will significantly affect alertness, judgment, and physical coordination, making it dangerous to drive and participate in sports, and impairing the ability to make decisions about further drinking. Small to moderate amounts of alcohol can increase aggressive behavior. Larger amounts cause physical effects such as staggering, slurred speech, double vision, sudden mood swings, and marked impairment of higher mental functions, severely altering your ability to learn and remember. Very high consumption, either long-term or in binges, can cause unconsciousness, respiratory arrest, and death. If combined with other depressants of the central nervous system, much smaller amounts of alcohol will cause the same effects. Combining alcohol consumption with stimulants, such as energy drinks, can mask the effects of alcohol.  This can make it more difficult for individuals to judge their level of intoxication and can therefore lead to a higher consumption of alcohol than is safe.  Heavy drinking may cause dependency on alcohol; sudden withdrawal may produce severe anxiety, tremors, hallucinations, and convulsions, and may even be life-threatening. Long-term heavy drinking increases the risk of developing liver and heart disease, circulatory problems, peptic ulcers, various forms of cancer, and irreversible brain damage. Women who drink alcohol during pregnancy may give birth to infants with fetal alcohol syndrome, causing irreversible physical and mental effects. Children of alcoholic parents may suffer from a number of developmental and psychological problems, and are a greater risk of becoming alcoholics than are other children. 

As the American College Health Association says in Alcohol Use and You: Decisions on Tap - abusing alcohol can cripple the chances for a good life. Too much drinking, even once, can cause pain and harm the lives of others. It can result in sports injuries, car accidents, fights, unplanned parenthood, sexual assault, and sexually transmitted diseases. Over time, too much drinking leads to slow, steady damage to the body and mind. 

Controlled substances have a number of physical and mental effects, summarized in the Drug Enforcement Administration Fact Sheets located at: 


State Laws  
Bowdoin College students must comply with Maine state laws regarding the consumption, sale, purchase, and delivery of alcohol. A summary of applicable Maine law is provided below:  

  1. Individuals must be twenty-one (21) years of age or older to purchase, possess, consume or transport alcoholic beverages in Maine. 
  2. It is illegal for minors (20 years of age or younger) to purchase, possess, consume or transport liquor. 
  3. It is illegal to falsify official Maine state identification cards or any identification material for the purpose of procuring alcoholic beverages. Moreover, no person may misrepresent age verbally or in writing or practice deceit in the procurement of an identification card, possess a false identification card, or sell, furnish, or give an identification card to another for the purpose of procuring liquor. 
  4. Only licensed liquor dealers may sell alcoholic beverages in Maine. Charging admission to parties where alcoholic beverages are available for “free” or possessing liquor with the intent to sell is illegal, as are any similar arrangements having similar effects. 
  5. No person may knowingly furnish, procure, deliver or sell liquor or imitation liquor to a minor or allow any minor under their control to possess or consume liquor or imitation liquor. 
  6. It is illegal to knowingly procure in any way and/or assist in procuring, furnishing, giving, delivering, or selling liquor to/for an intoxicated person. It is illegal to serve liquor to an intoxicated person if the server knows that such person is visibly intoxicated. 
  7. Consumption of alcoholic beverages in a public place is illegal without a special license or permit issued by authorized Maine state officials. 
  8. No person may drink liquor while operating a motor vehicle on any public way. A driver of a vehicle is also in violation of Maine law if the driver or a passenger of the vehicle possesses an open alcoholic beverage container in a vehicle on a public way. In addition, operating a motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08% or higher is illegal and, for a first offense, will automatically result in a suspension of your driver’s license or permit and/or a fine of at least $500. If you are under age twenty-one, the state considers you intoxicated if you have consumed any amount of alcohol and your license will be automatically suspended.  

Hard Liquor 
No student, regardless of age, may possess hard liquor on College premises. Hard liquor that is found on campus by Security will be confiscated. Generally, this excludes beer, malt beverages, wine, and hard cider. 

Drinking and Other Party Games  
Any games that encourage the rapid or frequent ingestion of alcohol or other intoxicant are not permitted even if the game is played using water or non-alcoholic beverages. Paraphernalia identified as intended for use in a drinking game, including tables, may be confiscated by Security and will become property of the College. 

Personal Responsibility 
Students influenced by alcohol or other substances are fully responsible for their actions and any damages they may cause. Individuals are also accountable for verbal or physical abuse toward other individuals or personal property. In addition, conduct violations may result in formal disciplinary action, including financial restitution for any and all damages incurred. 

Student Activity Fees 
Student groups cannot use student activity fees or any other College funds for the purchase of alcohol, without permission of the Office of the Dean for Student Affairs. 

Restricted Areas 
Please refer to the Policy for Social Events, Parties, and Gatherings for information on where alcohol is permitted on campus. Alcohol is not permitted in public places (e.g., common rooms, outdoor areas, residence hallways, stairwells, etc.) or outside private rooms per College policy and Maine state law. Except under special circumstances approved by the College, alcoholic beverages are not permitted in Kresge Auditorium, Hawthorne-Longfellow Library, Pickard Theater, Morrell Gymnasium, Farley Field House, Hatch Science Library, Watson Arena, Walker Art Museum, academic or other buildings, and facilities where the primary function of the building would be intruded upon or potentially impaired through the use of individuals consuming alcoholic beverages. 
Alcohol is not permitted in any residence where first-year students reside. 


Bowdoin College expects its students and employees to comply with all the requirements of federal and Maine state law. As such, the possession, trafficking, or use of illegal drugs, including the illegal distribution of prescription drugs, and/or drug paraphernalia, as defined in Maine and federal statutes are prohibited and subject the violator to disciplinary action by the College as well as possible prosecution by local, state, and/or federal authorities. Federal laws, including those governing marijuana and cannabis, preempt state law and, therefore, apply on Bowdoin’s campus. Consumption of cannabis products of any kind, including, but not limited to edibles or vaping devices (e.g. mods, pens, hookahs, JUULs, e-cigarettes) is strictly prohibited anywhere on College premises. Bowdoin students or employees who disregard the various drug laws are responsible for their actions and are not immune from the legal process by virtue of their educational or employment status. 

Students whose alcohol use, illegal drug use, or abuse of prescription drugs comes to the attention of the Office of the Dean of Students, including students with repeated medical transports related to alcohol or drug use, may be referred to Counseling Services or another drug treatment program. Depending on the circumstances, the student may also be subject to disciplinary action, and/or a voluntary or involuntary medical leave of absence as applicable pursuant to College policy. 

Violations that warrant dismissal from the College include: (1) selling or distributing illegal or prescription drugs; (2) placing illegal or prescription drugs in the beverages or food of others; (3) possession or consumption of illegal drugs; and (4) possession or consumption of medication that is not a student’s own prescription. If the Office of the Dean of Students receives reliable information or other evidence of such an offense, the Dean of Students may temporarily suspend the student pending a disciplinary process.


Indoor smoking is not permitted anywhere on College property, including in residence halls and office buildings. this Smoking includes the use of vaping devices (including but not limited to, mods, pens, hookahs, JUULs, and e-cigarettes), including residence halls and office buildings. Smoking is also not permitted on athletic grounds, in College vehicles, or within fifty feet of all building entrances.  

Individuals must be twenty-one (21) years of age or older to purchase, possess, or consume tobacco and tobacco products in Maine. It is illegal for minors (20 years of age or younger) to purchase, possess, or consume tobacco products in Maine. For more information, please visit Bowdoin’s Campus Non-Smoking Environment. 

Disabling or otherwise tampering with any fire safety device, to allow smoking in residential spaces or for any other reason, is a violation of both College policy and state and federal law, and will result in sanctions and possible criminal prosecution. 


Because alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs are psychoactive substances that present the possibility of addiction and other negative physical and psychological consequences, the College feels a responsibility to provide assessment and treatment (within certain parameters) to those individuals whose alcohol or other substance related behaviors indicate the potential for such consequences. Such individuals who come to the attention of the College will be referred, usually by the Office of the Dean of Students or the Office of Residential Life to either Bowdoin’s Health Services or Counseling Services for a substance use evaluation. This evaluation may result in a recommendation for treatment, which could take place individually or in a group, either on-campus or at an outside agency, depending on the particular circumstances and needs of the individual. 

Students are encouraged to seek education about alcohol and the effects alcohol has on the body. Programs and resources are available through Health Services, Counseling Services and Residential Life. Further, the College maintains a relationship with a consulting licensed alcohol and drug counselor, who is available to students. Students who receive disciplinary sanctions related to an alcohol-related infraction may be required to participate in an alcohol education conversation or program and meet with a licensed alcohol and drug counselor as deemed appropriate. 


The Bowdoin College Counseling Service is staffed by mental health professionals trained in psychiatry, psychology, social work and counseling who are prepared to assist students experiencing difficulties related to the use of alcohol or drugs.  Counseling Services provides two free confidential sessions with an off-campus licensed alcohol and drug counselor to any student who thinks their alcohol or drug use may be problematic. Students may also consult with the licensed substance abuse counselor or another clinician at Counseling Services if they are concerned about a friend or family member’s alcohol or drug use.  Counseling Services will also receive an assessment from the mandated three-session alcohol and drug evaluation with an off-campus licensed alcohol and drug counselor. Typically, the Office of the Dean of Students initiates these referrals following a series of alcohol/drug related infractions. In this case, students are responsible for the alcohol and drug evaluation fee ($300) and a report will be generated at the conclusion of the assessment that will be sent to Counseling Services where it will remain confidential. Only a brief summary will be shared with the Office of the Dean of Students to verify that a student has been evaluated and that a treatment or follow-up plan is in place. 

Additional referrals for substance abuse treatment are also available through community resources such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Al-Anon, Narcotics Anonymous (NA), intensive outpatient chemical dependency treatment; and inpatient hospitalization for chemical dependency. 

Where to Get Help: 

Health Services Staff:  207-725-3770 
Counseling Services Staff: 207-725-3145 

Community Resources: 

Alcoholics Anonymous for Bath-Brunswick, Hotline 1-800-737-6237 
Addiction Resource Center, Brunswick, 800-244-3805 
Geno Ring, LDAC, 207-319-4104 

Inpatient Rehabilitation Services: 

Mercy Hospital, Portland, 207-879-3600