By Sheridan Butler
College is an optional experience. Those who chose to attend surely realize that it’s a major stepping-stone that lays the foundation for future opportunities in one’s life. The process of deciding which college to attend comes after days of completing college applications, visiting colleges and waiting for the acceptance letters to roll in. Eager to venture out of parents advisory and restrictions, students look forward to new found independence; In addition to this new found independence is the “opportunity to experiment”. Students are faced with the curiosities and pressures of student and campus life, and some eventually experiment with drugs and alcohol. Though colleges do not endorse drinking for students under the legal drinking age, students find ways to access alcohol. Nationally, very large majorities, about 80 percent, of college students use alcohol [Villanova].
As for many college campuses, Howard University’s campus is no stranger to being labeled as a “party school”. According to “College Prowler”, Howard University is ranked 16th as “the most raging party scene”. After taking a survey of about 50 students who participate in social drinking and drug use, 60% admitted to social drinking and also a surprising 20% admit to some form of drug use–the other 20% declined to respond specifically. Between the use of “Molly” (the pure form of ecstasy) for social use and the pill “Adderall” prescribed for patients with ADHD like symptoms (which is usually used for studying purposes), the range of drug use on campus is almost alarming.
Most students are indifferent when it comes to partaking in social drinking or minimal drug use; “As long as you know your limit and no one is using any hard-core drugs, it’s just all in fun,” says senior Amiah. So is this pattern of drug and alcohol use all about experimenting or may it be potentially harmful?
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to distinguish between the students who use drugs and drink alcohol as merely a short-term college experience and those who may develop long-term detrimental dependency. “Abusing prescription stimulants can result in death, addiction, respiratory problems, seizures and cardiovascular issues, such as an irregular heartbeat.” [Tutino]
Although college drinking is only a precursor for long-term abuse for a small amount of students, (probably about 9 percent), it may still be a very significant concern seeing that it can lead to a lifelong problem [Tutino]. While students may take prescription drugs to get a “high” feeling, to “break the ice” in a party environment, or to enhance an experience, the side effects can be detrimental and lethal, if proper precautions aren’t adhered to. Students should be educated at their universities on the risks that come with drug and alcohol abuse and use at their own risk, and responsibly. More information on how drugs and alcohol may affect the body is available at the US Department of Health and Human Services website, http://www.hhs.gov/.