Alcohol and Drugs Abroad

Laws for alcohol and drug use in other countries may be different from the ones travelers are familiar with.  It is important to be aware that many countries may have harsher laws than those in the U.S.

Travelers may find new situations stressful.

  • The National Institute on Drug Abuse states on their NIDA Community Drug Alert Bulletin: “Stressful events can profoundly influence initiation, continuation, and relapse of drug, alcohol, and tobacco use.”
  • The CDC states on their Managing Stress article. “The best ways to manage stress in hard times are through self-care. Avoid drugs and alcohol. They may seem to be a temporary fix to feel better, but in the long run they can create more problems and add to your stress—instead of take it away.

Find below general tips and other useful resources on alcohol and drugs abroad.

General advice


  • Find out from local and reliable sources about what areas or locales in town are safe to go for a drink and which are not.
  • If you choose to drink, be responsible. Over consumption makes you less alert and decreases your ability to make good decisions around your safety and security.
  • Do not accept drinks from friendly strangers. They may have slipped drugs in the drink, it may also create a situation where the person believes you owe him/her.
  • Do not leave your drink unattended. Someone may slip drugs in your drink when you are not looking.
  • Avoid underage and excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Driving under the influence and drinking on the street or on public transportation may be considered criminal activities by local authorities.


  • Make sure your prescription or over the counter medication is not considered an illegal narcotic. Check with the foreign country’s embassy here in the U.S. to make sure your medications are not considered illegal narcotics, how you need to transport them, and whether you’ll be able to carry the amount you need for your trip.
  • Carry a doctor’s prescription for any medication you are taking with you.
  • Don’t import, purchase, use, or have drugs in your possession. Drug charges can carry severe consequences, including imprisonment without bail for up to a year before a case is tried and sentences ranging from fines and jail time to years of hard labor. Some crimes even carry the penalty of death. Contraband or paraphernalia associated with illegal drug use can also get you in trouble.
  • Say no to anyone asking you to carry a package. If the package contains illegal drugs or substances, the fact that you didn’t know that will not reduce the consequences.
  • Pack your luggage yourself, and keep it with you at all times before check-in.

You may also find useful the following resources:


The information on this page may change without notice

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  1. […] Review advise for Traveling with Medications and Alcohol and Drugs Abroad. […]