Alcohol Abuse, Illegal Drugs and Our Community

November 30, 2015

To the members of the MIT Community,

Over the past two years, to a degree I have never seen here before, the people of MIT have been thinking and talking openly about campus life issues, from sexual assault to mental and emotional well-being. As we have worked together to develop solutions, one theme threading through many conversations has been the complex and often damaging role of alcohol and drugs.

The results of the 2015 Healthy Minds Study and 2014 Community Attitudes on Sexual Assault survey show the direct – and negative – links between substance abuse and student health and safety. In order to ensure that every member of our community is well, we must acknowledge the real dangers of alcohol and illegal drug use, and we must focus our efforts on raising community awareness about the resources available to help.

Whether or not these problems touch you directly, you can help by reading our statement on a drug-free campus and workplace, and learning about programs that can make a difference. If alcohol or illegal drugs are issues for you or anyone in your life, you can turn to these resources for support:

  • The Office of Community Development & Substance Abuse (CDSA) offers a range of prevention, intervention, and counseling and referral services for all MIT community members. CDSA can be reached at (617) 253-4193.
  • MIT Medical offers confidential counseling, referral, treatment, or recovery information. For more information, students can call the Mental Health and Counseling Service at (617) 253-2916 and employees can call MIT MyLifeServices at (617) 253-4911.
  • For confidential on-campus support and recovery groups:
    • MIT Alcohol Support Group: (617) 253-2916
    • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA campus support meeting): (617) 253-2916

The federal government requires all large institutions to have a comprehensive program to prevent alcohol abuse and the use of illegal drugs and to make sure the community knows about it. We are also required to review that program for effectiveness every two years. (If you have used any of our prevention services, please help with the biennial review by sharing your feedback and suggestions for improvements with

As Chancellor, I want every member of the MIT community to be safe and well. To achieve this important goal, we must talk openly about the toll substance abuse takes on individuals and our community, and we must be committed to spreading the word that help is available – for students, postdocs, faculty, and staff alike. Please join me in getting this vital message out.


Cynthia Barnhart


Note: Letter updated 6/3/16 to reflect change to employee MIT MyLifeServices program.