Drug-Free Schools And Communities Act (DFSCA) Substance Abuse Policy

Drug-Free Schools And Communities Act (DFSCA) Substance Abuse Policy


The Louis V. Gerstner, Jr. Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (“GSK”) is committed to a drug-free environment and protecting the safety, health and well-being of all employees and students. In accordance with the Drug-Free Schools and Campuses Regulations (34 CFR Part 86) of the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act (“DFSCA”), GSK has adopted and implemented a program to prevent the use of illicit drugs and abuse of alcohol by students and employees. As part of its program, GSK has adopted this policy which sets forth the standards of conduct for employees and students related to unlawful possession, use or distribution of illegal drugs, as well as the range of sanctions that can be imposed for violation of GSK’s policies regarding substance abuse. GSK is the degree-granting arm of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (“MSK”), and both institutions equally apply and enforce the standards, policies and sanctions set forth below.

Standards of Conduct

Student use, misuse, or abuse of alcohol, any illegal drug, or any controlled substance on MSK premises or while acting in any capacity as a representative of MSK, shall be considered misconduct, and will subject the student to a drug test and/or disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal from the GSK. Such misconduct includes, but is not limited to, being under the influence of alcohol, any illegal drug, or any controlled substance. “Under the influence” includes, but is not limited to, the presence of a physically detectable quantity of alcohol, any illegal drug, or any controlled substance in the body considered significant by MSK.

MSK prohibits the unlawful manufacture, possession, use, sale, and distribution of drugs in the workplace.  MSK also prohibits workforce members from being under the influence of alcohol, any illegal drug, or any non-prescribed controlled substance while at work or conducting business as a representative of MSK. MSK reserves the right to search employees’ belongings while they are on MSK premises. This helps to ensure the safety and protection of our employees, as well as of patients and visitors.

A violation of either of these policies shall be grounds for immediate discipline, up to and including dismissal from the GSK and/or termination of employment from MSK.

Conviction for a drug-related offense on or off MSK premises shall be grounds for disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal from the GSK and/or termination of employment from MSK.

Students and employees are expected to cooperate fully in any required testing or prescribed treatment program, and with all monitoring requirements. Failure to cooperate may result in disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal from the GSK and/or termination of employment from MSK.

Requirements and procedures related to academic and/or job performance and conduct continue to be applicable when a student or employee:

  • has been referred for drug testing and/or treatment;
  • is treated for substance abuse; or
  • has re-enrolled or return to work after treatment for substance abuse

MSK and GSK substance abuse policies do not apply to the student’s or employee’s use of prescription drugs in accordance with a physician’s orders, the consumption of reasonable amounts of alcohol at MSK or GSK-sponsored activities or the consumption of reasonable and appropriate amounts of alcohol by a student or employee when they are acting as a representative of MSK.

Legal Sanctions

MSK complies with and abides by all federal, state and local laws and regulations pertaining to drug and alcohol abuse and trafficking. A student or employee who violates substance abuse policies may be subject to criminal sanctions provided by federal, state, and local law in addition to any sanctions MSK may impose.

As required by the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988, an employee working on projects funded through federal contracts or grants must notify Human Resources or the Dean’s Office of a conviction of a criminal drug violation that occurred on MSK property within five (5) days of such conviction. The Institution is required to notify the relevant federal contracting or granting agency within ten (10) days and to take the appropriate personnel action within (30) days of receipt of the notice. A conviction includes: a plea or finding of guilty, any plea of “nolo contendere,” or an imposition of a fine or penalty.

Federal Sanctions

Federal law has numerous penalties for the illegal possession of controlled substances, possession of crack cocaine, and trafficking in methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, cocaine base, PCP, LSD, fentanyl and fentanyl analogue. An up to date list of federal drug trafficking penalties (by schedule) can be found online. See http//www.dea.gov/druginfo/ftp3.shtml for a complete listing of drugs by schedule.

Possession sentences range from up to one-year imprisonment and $1,000 fine to 20 years imprisonment and fines up to $250,000.  Forfeiture of personal and real property used to possess or to facilitate possession of a controlled substance can be a sanction for convictions. Sanctions can also include denial of federal benefits, such as student loans, grants, contracts, public housing tenancy, eligibility to receive or purchase firearms, and professional and commercial licenses.

New York State Sanctions

New York State law also forbids the possession, use, or distribution of illicit drugs and imposes criminal penalties, which may include imprisonment. The penalty imposed for a conviction will generally depend upon the specific drug and the amount of the drug held or sold, as well as the individual’s history of prior convictions. Judges have some discretion to consider the circumstances in sentencing. The following are a few examples of potential criminal penalties for drug infractions under New York law:

  • The possession of less than 500 mg of cocaine is classified as criminal possession in the 7th degree, a Class A misdemeanor which carries a penalty of up to one year in jail.
  • The possession of one-half an ounce of cocaine or more is a Class B felony punishable by up to 9 years in prison.

Penalties for Unlawful Distribution of Alcohol

Under both Federal and New York State laws, selling or otherwise furnishing alcohol to an individual under the age of 21 is a misdemeanor punishable by fine and/or imprisonment. Selling alcohol without a license or permit is unlawful and punishable by a fine and/or imprisonment. See New York State Laws and Regulations: http://www.health.ny.gov/professionals/narcotic/laws_and_regulations/

Health Risks of Substance Abuse

The health consequences of alcohol abuse and substance use may be immediate and unpredictable, such as fatalities associated with alcohol poisoning and drug overdose, or more subtle and long-term, such as liver and brain damage associated with prolonged use of alcohol.

In addition to health-related problems, alcohol abuse and substance use are associated with financial difficulties, interpersonal conflicts, domestic violence, deterioration of the family structure, accidental injuries or fatality, and may significantly impact academic and work performance.

Selected drugs and their effects

Alcohol and Other Depressants (barbiturates, sedatives, and tranquilizers)

  • Alcohol, tranquilizers, and sedatives are all considered depressants. These drugs depress the central nervous system by mimicking either the brain’s natural sedating chemicals or by diminishing the brain’s natural ability to produce stimulating chemicals.
  • Short-term effects: Alcohol consumption causes a number of marked changes in behavior; even low doses significantly impair judgment and coordination. Moderate to high doses cause significant impairments in higher mental functions, severely altering a person’s ability to learn and remember information. Very high doses can cause respiratory depression and death. The effects of other depressants are similar to those of alcohol: large doses can cause slurred speech, poor motor coordination, altered perception, psychosis, hallucinations and paranoid delusions, coma, or death.
  • Long-term effects: Long-term effects of using alcohol include addiction, depression, accidents as a result of impaired ability, ulcers, gastritis, pancreatitis, fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, chronic active hepatitis, and cirrhosis. Long-term use of other depressants can also lead to addiction, including both physical and psychological dependence. Regular use over time may result in a tolerance to the drug. Withdrawal symptoms may range from restlessness, insomnia, and anxiety, to convulsions and death.


  • Nicotine, one of more than 4,000 chemicals found in the smoke from tobacco products, is the primary component in tobacco that acts on the brain. Nicotine is absorbed through the skin and mucosal lining of the mouth and nose or by inhalation in the lungs. Nicotine increases the levels of dopamine in the brain. The acute effects of nicotine dissipate in a few minutes, causing the smoker to continue dosing frequently throughout the day to maintain the drug’s pleasurable effects and prevent withdrawal.
  • Effects: Select effects include addiction, high blood pressure, emphysema, heart and lung disease, and cancer.


  • THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) stores itself in the fatty tissue of the brain, reproductive organs, liver, lungs, and spleen, where it causes tissue damage and hinders normal body function. In the brain, THC widens the gaps between nerve cells causing decreased transmission of impulses.
  • Effects: Use can result in speech, memory and learning problems, physical impairment, and can interfere with judgment, and cause difficulty thinking and solving problems. Use can also elevate anxiety and cause a panic reaction. Long-term use can cause permanent memory problems. There is also an increased risk of developing respiratory problems including, but not limited to, cancer.

Stimulants (cocaine, amphetamines, “speed, “uppers”)

  • Cocaine use interferes with reabsorption of dopamine causing euphoria, which constricts blood vessels, dilates pupils, and increases heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Effects: Acute cardiovascular or cerebrovascular emergencies such as heart attack or stroke can result from use, regardless of frequency. Cocaethylene, created by the liver when cocaine and alcohol are used, increases the chance of sudden death. Addiction, lung damage, depression, paranoia, and toxic psychosis are also possible. Similar risks are presented by the use of speed and uppers.

Ecstasy (MDMA, Molly)

  • Ecstasy is a synthetic drug, and is similar to both methamphetamine and mescaline, which is a hallucinogenic.
  • Effects: The drug mainly affects the body by affecting neurons that use the chemical serotonin, which can greatly affect mood, aggression, sexual activity, sleep, and sensitivity to pain. In high doses, MDMA can interfere with the body’s ability to regulate temperature, which can lead to a sharp increase in body temperature (hyperthermia), resulting in liver, kidney, and cardiovascular system failure.

Hallucinogens (LSD, PCP)

  • PCP is a white powder that is readily soluble in water or alcohol. LSD [lysergic acid diethylamide] is manufactured from lysergic acid, which is found in ergot, a fungus that grows on rye and other grains. The effects of these substances are unpredictable, and depend on the amount taken, the user’s personality and mood, and the surroundings in which the drug is used.
  • Short-term effects: These drugs alter users’ perception of time and space by changing the way the brain interprets stimuli. They also increase heart rate and blood pressure, which can lead to coma, or heart and lung failure. High doses can cause symptoms that mimic schizophrenia, such as delusions, hallucinations, paranoia, disordered thinking, a sensation of distance from one’s environment, and catatonia. Speech is often sparse and garbled. PCP can be addictive.
  • Long-term effects: Flashbacks can occur days, months, or even years after use. Users can also experience decreased motivation, prolonged depression, increased anxiety, increased delusions and panic, and psychosis such as schizophrenia or severe depression.

Narcotics (opium, morphine, codeine, heroin)

  • Narcotics include opium, opium derivatives, and semi-synthetic substitutes of opium derivatives. Narcotic use is associated with a variety of unwanted effects including drowsiness, inability to concentrate, apathy, lessened physical activity, constriction of the pupils, dilation of the subcutaneous blood vessels causing flushing of the face and neck, constipation, nausea and vomiting, and most significantly, respiratory depression. As the dose is increased, the subjective, analgesic (pain relief), and toxic effects become more pronounced.
  • Short-term effects: Short-term effects include restlessness, irritability, loss of appetite, nausea, tremors, and drug craving.
  • Long-term effects: Long term effects include addiction, accidental overdose, risk of hepatitis and AIDS infection from contaminated needles.

Prescription Drug Abuse

  • The most commonly misused prescription drugs are: painkillers (codeine, Oxycontin, Vicodin, Demerol), CNS depressants (Nembutal, Valium, Xanax), and stimulants (Ritalin, Dexedrine, Adderall).
  • Short-term effects: Stimulants and CNS depressants present risks for irregular heartbeat, greatly reduced heart rate, seizures, dangerously increased body temperature, and can cause aggressive or paranoid behavior.
  • Long-term effects: The greatest risk from these drugs is the significant chance for dependence. This can lead to greater doses and increased frequency of use. Attempting to cease use without proper medical help after dependence has been established can be dangerous and even fatal.

Inhalants (gas, aerosols, glue, nitrites, nitrous oxide)

  • Inhalants are breathable chemical vapors that produce psychoactive effects. A variety of products common in the home and the workplace contain substances that can be inhaled:
    • Solvents: paint thinners or removers, degreasers, dry-cleaning fluids, gasoline, and glue Art or office supply solvents: correction fluids, felt-tip-marker fluid, and electronic contact cleaners
    • Gases (used in household or commercial products): butane lighters and propane tanks, whipped cream aerosols (whip-its), and refrigerant gases
    • Household aerosol propellants: contained in items such as spray paints, hair or deodorant sprays, fabric protector sprays, and aerosol computer cleaning products Medical anesthetic gases: ether, chloroform, halothane, and nitrous oxide
    • Nitrites: volatiles including cyclohexyl, butyl, and aryl nitrites, commonly known as “poppers”. Volatile nitrites are often sold in small brown bottles and labeled as “video head cleaner,” “room odorizer,” “leather cleaner,” or “liquid aroma.”
  • Short-term effects: These chemicals slow down the body’s functions, and can cause momentary intoxication which, if continued, can lead to stimulation, reduced inhibition, and ultimately loss of consciousness. Using solvents or aerosol sprays can induce heart failure and death, known as “sudden sniffing death.” This effect is mostly associated with butane, propane, and chemicals in aerosols.
  • Long-term effects: These chemicals can cause severe damage to the brain, liver, and kidneys. Specifically, they can cause hearing loss, peripheral neuropathies (limb spasms), central nervous system damage, and even bone marrow damage.


  • GHB (gamma hydroxybutyrate) is a central nervous system depressant. It is made from gamma butyrolactone and sodium or potassium hydroxide, which means that it is essentially degreasing solvent or floor stripper combined with drain cleaner. In liquid form it is usually clear and looks like water. GHB and two of its precursors, gamma butyrolactone (GBL) and 1,4 butanediol (BD) have been characterized as predatory drugs used to commit acts of sexual violence.
  • Effects: Abuse of GHB can cause amnesia, coma and/or seizures, inability to move, or impaired speech. There is also a risk of death, especially when combined with alcohol or other drugs.

Substance abuse, whether alcohol or drug, is harmful to your health. Please take the time to read more information about the harmful effects of alcohol and drug abuse cited below:

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Website: https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health

National Institute on Drug Abuse

Website: https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/commonly-abused-drugs-charts

More information about controlled substances can be found in Title 21 United States Code (USC) Controlled Substances Act, Section 811.

Drug and Alcohol Programs – Available Resources

If you have questions or issues about alcohol and other drugs, there are resources at MSK where you can get help. You may contact the Magellan Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and/or Employee Health & Wellness Services (“EH&WS”). These services are readily available to students and employees who voluntarily seek counseling and rehabilitation. The EAP offers free, professional, confidential counseling and referrals for a broad range of issues. On demand resources are also available. Go to MagellanAscend.com to sign up. For in person counseling and Telehealth support, you may call (800) 327-7893 or visit MagellanAscend.com to find care online. Students, employees and family members are eligible to use the service at no cost. Counselors are available to assist 24/7.

For convenience and privacy, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s Magellan EAP can be reached by calling 800-327-8793.

Employee Health & Wellness Services is located at 222 E. 70th Street, has a satellite office in room MG-03 at 1275 York Avenue, and can be reached at 646-888-4000.

If a student or staff member shows signs or symptoms of illness or impairment, you should notify your supervisor, Human Resources, EH&WS, or the confidential MSK Compliance Hotline (by calling 866-568-5421 or by going to https://mskcc.ethicspoint.com).

MSK Main Security212-639-7866
Administrator On CallBeeper: 1521; iPhone: 646-581-3582
Paging Operator212-639-2000 (main line) | 212-639-6680 (private line)
Emergency Dial212-639-6000
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)212-647-1680
Women for Sobriety215-536-8026
Smart Recovery Self-Help Network212-631-1198
Narcotics Anonymous212-929-6262
Cocaine Anonymous212-262-2463
Disciplinary Sanctions


Anyone observing something in an individual’s performance or behavior that indicates that this individual may be violating GSK’s Substance Abuse policy should refer the matter to the Dean of the GSK. The Dean will contact an HR Legal & Regulatory representative for evaluation and advice and may contact EH&WS when appropriate.

If the observation occurs outside of normal business hours, the available Administrator on Call and/or Nursing Supervisor should be contacted. In consultation with the Dean, the AOC and/or Nursing Supervisor will determine whether or not to refer the employee to the Urgent Care Center. The Nursing Supervisor can be contacted by calling the Page Operator at telephone 639-7900 and asking to speak to the Nursing Supervisor. The AOC can be contacted at the above numbers.

The student exhibiting concerning behavior or performance may be placed on academic probation and informed not to return to class/laboratory pending a discussion with the mentor, an HR Legal & Regulatory representative, and the EH&WS Medical Director of Employee Health Service (or designee). The employee demonstrating this behavior or performance may be suspended with or without pay and subject to additional corrective action up to and including termination of employment.

The student or employee may be asked to undergo drug and alcohol testing to determine whether or not GSK’s policy has been violated. At this time the student or employee will be required to sign a release giving EH&WS permission to release drug and alcohol test results to HR, if such testing is done. The signing of this release is mandatory and a condition of continued enrollment and/or employment.  If the student or employee refuses to sign the release, it should be so indicated on the Consent Form, and EH&WS will contact HR to discuss next steps.

If it is suspected or known that a student or employee has violated GSK’s Substance Abuse policy, including refusal to be tested for drugs and alcohol, to release the results of those tests or to cooperate in a required or recommended treatment program, the matter should be referred to the Dean of the GSK or HR Legal & Regulatory Affairs. A determination will then be made as to the action to be taken. This determination will result from discussion between the student’s mentor, the Dean of the GSK, an HR Legal & Regulatory representative and, when appropriate, a representative from EH&WS, and actions that may be required include, but are not limited to:

  • referral to the EAP;
  • referral to an outside program for either in patient or out-patient treatment; periodic medical follow-up by EH&WS or EAP;
  • disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal from the GSK and/or termination of employment; and
  • referral for prosecution
Resources for GSK Students

Michael H. Overholtzer, PhD
Dean, GSK
Tel: 212-639-6536

Thomas G. Magaldi, PhD
Associate Dean, GSK
Tel: 646-888-6636

Ushma S. Neill, PhD
Vice President, Scientific Education and Training, SKI
Tel: 646-888-2011

Yaihara Fortis-Santiago
Associate Director of Postdoctoral Affairs & Trainee Diversity Initiatives
Tel: 646-888-3705

Leslie Ballantyne, Esq.
MSK HR Legal & Regulatory Affairs
Tel: 646-227-2742

Lindsay Cornacchia, Esq.
Associate Director of Compliance & Assistant General Counsel
Tel: 212-639-2496

Melissa Maxwell-Avila
MSK Human Resources Business Partner
Tel: 646-227-3888

Mental Health Resources Contact Information

GSK is committed to safety and respect within the campus community, and to the support of those in need of help. The following are resources available both on and off campus to members of the GSK community.

Short-Term Counseling

Magellan Employee Assistance Program (EAP) 
Tel: 800-327-8793
Website: MagellanAscend.com

Penni Morganstein, Psy.D
Magellan counselor dedicated to MSK trainees
Free, no copays, no use of insurance, Magellan Employee Assistance Program
Tel: 917-968-6379
[email protected]
Appointments available: https://mskbookme.magellanhealth.com

Chanchal Sharma, Psy.D; MS.Ed
Employee Health Psychologist
Tel: 646-888-4128
[email protected]
Available by appointment: Monday – Friday,

Faith-Based Counseling
Protestant, Catholic, Muslim, Jewish
Tel: 212-639-5982

Social Workers at MSK
Tel: 212-639-7020

National Suicide Prevention Line (non-MSK)
Tel: 1-800-273-8255
Available: 24/7

Long-Term Counseling

Health Insurance Providers

Health Advocate helps you navigate the healthcare system and make the most of your MSK medical plan. Turn to them throughout the year for 24/7 at 866-695-8622 or https://mskbenefits.mskcc.org/keyword/health-advocate/.

Telemedicine for Mental Health: If you are enrolled in any MSK medical plan, you and your covered dependents have access to telemedicine through your respective medical plan carrier at no cost to you.

MSK Professional and Mentoring Resources

Office of Scientific Education and Training
[email protected]

Office of Career and Professional Development 
[email protected]

Gerstner Sloan Kettering Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
[email protected]

HR Business Partners
Tel: 646-227-3456

Other Resources

Victim Intervention Program (New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center): Free, confidential services for survivors of crime, including sexual assault and domestic violence, as well as for family and friends. The Victim Prevention Program is located at 525 East 68th Street, New York, NY 10065, [email protected], 212-746-9414.

New York State Domestic and Sexual Violence Hotline: 800-942-6906

New York State Office of Victim Services: 800-247-8035 or www.ovs.ny.gov

Safe Horizon’s Rape/Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-621-HOPE (4673)

Anyone observing something in an individual’s performance or behavior that indicates that this individual may be violating GSK or MSK’s Code of Conduct policies should refer the matter to the Dean of GSK. The Dean should contact an HR representative for evaluation and advice. HR will contact Employee Health Service when appropriate.

Other resources:

MSK Main Security212-639-7866
Administrator on CallBeeper: 1521; iPhone: 646-581-3582
Page Operator:212-639-2000 (main line) 212-639-6680 (private line)
Emergency Dial212-639-6000
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)212-647-1680
Women for Sobriety215-536-8026
Smart Recovery Self Help212-631-1198
Narcotics Anonymous212-929-6262
Cocaine Anonymous212-262-2463

Compliance Hotline

If you are not comfortable raising an issue in your department, or if you have raised a concern and feel that it has not been addressed, you can call the MSK Compliance Hotline. It provides a way for employees as well as vendors and contractors to report concerns about how MSK does business. You can report anonymously – without identifying yourself – when you make a report to the hotline.

The MSK Compliance Hotline is available 24 hours a day, every day of the year, and is managed by an outside company. You can submit a concern by calling 866-568-5421 or by going to https://mskcc.ethicspoint.com. 

If you make a report through the Compliance Hotline, you will be asked to call back in ten days for a status report. It’s important to remember to call back – especially if you did not give your name – because we may need more information in order to complete our review.

10/6/23 rev.