UKIC / International Health, Safety & Security / Traveler Safety / Alcohol & Drug Use

Alcohol & Drug Use

Alcohol Abroad

All UK travelers are encouraged to research the cultural norms around alcohol use before traveling internationally, as they can vary widely from country to country. In many countries, alcohol may be more widely available than in the U.S., and drinking ages may be lower. In others, it may be extremely culturally inappropriate or even illegal to consume alcohol. 

If you do choose to consume alcohol while abroad, keep in mind that doing so can have health and safety implications. Keep the following points in mind: 

  • Mixing alcohol with certain prescription medications can be dangerous to your health. Review this publication for more information.  

  • Public intoxication may be illegal abroad, and if you are arrested by local authorities, you will be subject to their jurisdiction. 

  • When you are in an unfamiliar place, alcohol use may further disorient you and expose you to additional safety risks. 

  • Drinking to get drunk is rarely seen as culturally appropriate, and binge drinking is viewed as disrespectful in many cultures. 

  • In some parts of the developing world, alcohol production may be unregulated. Consuming alcohol from unregulated sources may be especially dangerous. 

If you are struggling with an alcohol addiction, the United Kingdom chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) provides resources about AA meetings worldwide. Click here for more information. 

Drugs Abroad

Do not use drugs abroad. In many countries, the penalties for the possession or use of drugs are much more severe than they are in the U.S. In some places, even the death penalty is a possibility. All international travelers should consider the following points: 

  • U.S. law and constitutional protections do not apply to you outside the country. If you are arrested for the use or possession of drugs, there is very little that anyone can do to assist you. You will be subject to the laws and judicial system of your host country. 
  • Ignorance of the law is never a defense. 
  • Many countries have mandatory sentences for drug-related crimes. 
  • Many countries do not offer a trial by jury, and if you are tried, your fate may be up to the discretion of a single judge. 
  • In some places, even entering the country with drugs in your system is a criminal offense. 

You should NEVER accept packages from strangers for transport back to the United States or to any other country. If they are found to contain drugs, you will be prosecuted under local law, even if you are unaware of what is inside them.  

Additional Information for Students

UK students studying abroad should always remember that they are acting as representatives of the University and the U.S. while they are on their programs. They are also subject to the UK Code of Student Conduct for their duration of their programs. 

Misusing alcohol or drugs while on an Education Abroad program can have serious repercussions beyond the risks discussed above, up to and including dismissal from a program. Dismissal from a program for these reasons could result in major financial and academic implications, and include additional on-campus disciplinary actions once you have returned to the U.S.