As a means to support students making healthy choices in social situations, we provide a range of substance awareness programs. These programs are developmentally appropriate and are intended for all of our students. We also provide additional support and structure for those students who face issues of substance use. Before matriculating, it is critical that students and families understand and support our policies.
- Prohibited Substances
- In the Presence of Substances
- Suspicion of Substance Abuse
- Tobacco Products
- Health Response to Substance Use: “Blue Card”
In cases where substance use is known to have occurred, students will have special code of behavior contracts which include structured support. In addition to the sanctions invoked by the Discipline Committee for substance use, students will receive structured support designed to assist them in choosing not to use these substances in these cases. The student, parents, and advisor will sign a code of behavior contract that outlines the steps to be undertaken to discourage further use and to help the student develop the self-awareness and strength to resist using prohibited substances. In signing the contract, families agree to full disclosure of all evaluations among student, family, and school.
Students will receive evaluative and counseling support. Students will attend a series of five structured meetings [more if needed] with a school counselor for an initial assessment. Once this assessment is complete, an appropriate treatment plan will be discussed
A student’s substance use may require additional off-campus treatment. If participating in treatment off campus, parents must sign a release to allow Suffield’s counselors to communicate with and obtain information from the off-campus treatment program. All costs associated with the program are borne by the family. Most contracts require the student to undergo random, mandatory drug testing for the duration of their time at Suffield, regardless of the specific substance used. The school utilizes a random drug screen, which is processed by a variety of in-school and out-of-school resources. The testing program has been quite effective in deterring further use, and it gives students a tool with which to resist peer pressure. Additionally, students will attend mandatory group meetings on a monthly basis. These meetings will be run by an off-campus drug and alcohol counselor and will continue for the life of a student’s code of behavior contract. Students who fail to attend these meetings are in violation of a signed contract and this can result in significant disciplinary action up to and including jeopardizing the student’s enrollment in school. Code of behavior contracts may be extended by the school if it is deemed appropriate.
Faculty members encountering groups of students using prohibited substances may have to differentiate between those actively using the substance and those who claim not to have been using the substance. We reserve the right to require each student found in the presence of prohibited substances to submit to a drug screen administered by the school nurse. Students detected by faculty in the presence of those using substances will also receive structured health support. These students will receive the counseling and evaluative support described above.
There are times when a faculty member will have to address concerns that arise from students’ substance use even when no physical proof exists. A drop in grades, a deterioration of personal appearance, or substantial anecdotal information may lead to faculty concern that a student has begun to use—or has accelerated the use of prohibited substances.
When substantial evidence of this kind exists, the student’s advisor, a dorm parent, the Dean of Students & Campus Life, or a school counselor will discuss the concerns with the student first, and a room search may occur for residential students or a locker search for day students. Afterwards, parents will be notified of this meeting and specific concerns. If, over the course of time, concerns persist, the school reserves the right to require the student to undergo random drug tests and to receive structured support from the Health and Counseling Centers.
The health risks for tobacco are well established, and Suffield does not allow possession or use of tobacco products, including nicotine replacement products, vaping devices, or e-cigarettes, by its students regardless of age. Students who are found in violation of this rule will meet with the Dean of Students & Campus Life. In addition, students who are found to be using tobacco products may also receive support and education from the Health Center.
This policy concerns students at risk of substance use or abuse and Suffield’s commitment to support students voluntarily seeking help.
Students have resources on campus, for themselves or a peer, if there is need for medical attention or intervention.
The use of a Blue Card provides an avenue by which a student can seek medical attention. It provides students with support from the Health Center and Counseling Center as needed. Consistent with the school’s commitment to aiding its students, students themselves are obligated to offer aid to other students who might be at risk. As such, the students who bring forward a student in crisis are also covered by the Blue Card policy.
The Health Center’s general approach to any episode that requires a health response is to manage, medically observe, and assess in the Health Center or, alternatively, at the hospital if the student is in medical danger or is potentially harmful to self or others. As part of the medical evaluation, urine drug testing may be performed. Parents of these students will be contacted by the school. Following the incident, a student will undergo an in-depth assessment, which will be used to identify an appropriate course of action.
The following resources may be utilized to ascertain the individual’s medical/psychological background and/or needs:
- School medical personnel
- Counseling Center
- Outside medical or psychological evaluators such as a certified drug and alcohol counselor [CDAC] chosen by the school.
Once the assessment is complete, a contract will be developed that specifies which support services the student will use. These services may include, but are not limited to, ongoing individual counseling, group counseling, outside drug and alcohol counseling, and random drug screens. The school strongly believes in supporting its students. It is understood, however, that chemical dependency to alcohol or other drugs is a serious issue that the school may not be able to help the student address while on campus. For this reason, it may be required at any time that the student take a leave of absence to find more appropriate treatment.