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Drug Concerns

Prescription medication and illicit street drugs such as marijuana are present on campus as well as in our students’ home communities. The effects of using usually show up as a change in academic performance, changes in social groups and other changes that may appear to be caused by unrelated things. We work with students to determine the results of their choices. Below we've provided some information to help you assess drug-related problems, and take measures to improve situations of dependency.

Prescription Medication
Have you thought about taking prescription medication for reasons other than pain or medical conditions? More than one-third of college students have reported knowing a close friend who has abused prescription medications.

Morphine, codeine, oxycodone and hydrocodone are among the common types of medications prescribed by doctors for pain. Non-medical use of these prescriptions by college students ages 18-22, is at the highest level in two decades. Typical reasons for taking these medications can vary, but misuse of prescription drugs can influence the choice to try street drugs like cocaine or heroin. 

Consequences can include:

  • Physical dependence (withdrawal symptoms after a legal prescription by a doctor ends)
  • Addiction (repeated compulsive behavior with no regard for consequences)
  • Lower grades
  • Higher rates of substance abuse
  • Higher risk for bad behavior

In addition, mixing prescriptions with alcohol can result in a deadly, toxic combination in the body which can increase the risk of overdosing, loss of coordination, difficulty breathing and heart attacks. 

Below are some reasons for non-medical prescription use and alternative options.

Reason for Nonmedical Use Alternative Option
Recreation/experimentation Figure out the cause of the desire to turn to prescription medications.
Talk to a campus counselor for confidential, one-on-one help. 
Trouble sleeping Adequate sleep is important, especially for college students. But with the amount of course work, outside work and making time for friends, it can be hard to squeeze in enough sleep. 

Healthier alternatives to medication include organizing your daily life into a simple routine and taking a 30-minute nap in the afternoon for a refresher. 
Stress/anxiety Stress is a part of a college student’s life so discover better options to relax yourself. Exercise, take short study breaks with friends or even visit Academic Success, Support & Accessibility if you feel overwhelmed by your course work. 

If the stress or anxiety becomes overwhelming, please consider talking to a campus counselor.  

Misusing Stimulants
Doctors prescribe stimulants for health issues such as ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) or for rare sleep disorders among other conditions. To take a friend’s prescription – even to help you concentrate on studying for an exam – is illegal (called “misuse”) and dangerous. 

Taking prescription pills that haven’t been approved by a doctor that knows you can cause some serious health problems:
  • Raised blood pressure to dangerous levels
  • Raised heart rates to dangerous levels
  • Difficulty sleeping or eating
  • Heightened feelings of stress, irritability and anxiety
  • Risk of dependence 

Prolonged misuse of prescription drugs can also cause students to study less, skip class more and have lower GPAs.

Your success in class depends on managing time and priorities. If you’re are having trouble in class or are seeking help with time management, please visit Academic Success, Support & Accessibility for assistance.

Marijuana Use: Then & Now
Despite decline of use since the 1970s, there’s a big difference between marijuana then and now: the potency of the drug. The major active ingredient in marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC and is most responsible for the drug’s mind-altering effects.

Marijuana available to students today can be five times more potent than it was in the 1970s.

In terms of health, marijuana smoked today is stronger and more harmful, both legally and academically, than was available to college students of past generations.

Here are some examples:

  • Frequent marijuana use is associated with poor academic performance because it can affect concentration and the ability to retain information.
  • The Higher Education Act prevents access to federal student loans for anyone with a drug conviction, no matter how minor.
  • Campus policies differ, but if you’re charged with marijuana possession, use or distribution, you could face fines, loss of campus housing, probation, suspension, expulsion or parental notification.
  • Companies also tend to perform background checks on potential employees and a marijuana conviction may stay on your record for a long time, which may prevent you from getting a job after graduation.

What can I do?
If you’re around marijuana or feel pressured to smoke, here are some things to consider:

  • Know you’re not alone, if you don’t smoke. Nearly 70% of college students have never tried marijuana, according to a 2009 survey from the American College Health Association.
  • Know your campus policies and state laws.
  • If you already smoke and are seeking help, talk to a campus counselor

*All information is gathered from mystudentbody.com.

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