Posted: September 26, 2012 at 5:13 am
Drugs are a prolific part of North American culture, it’s inescapable. Twenty-Twenty, Sixty Minutes, Good Morning America, along with every major talk show host in the country has dedicated a significant amount of airtime to discussing the debauchery of Generation Y. Cookie cutter children who grow up in ‘well-to-do’ homes get to college and can’t handle the pressure that goes along with being a co-ed. There seems to be a slew of common complaints that are offered up by new college coeds, but they all seem to revolve around the same issue; An overwhelming workload. The interesting thing, is that the college kids that are taking recreation drugs is actually quite disproportionate, in that there are still far more college kids getting through without doing drugs. So the question that sociologists and cultural anthropologists are asking themselves, what is the common thread between all these students?
The truth is, there really isn’t one. There have been several national studies conducted over the last ten years, all in an effort to determine why some adults aren’t able to get through without a chemical crutch. The most common drug that’s being passed around campus is Adderall, a prescription medication that is given to individuals suffering from ADHD. It is an an amphetamine, and according to several drug agencies, amphetamines high an incredibly high incidence of abuse and addiction. Taking any amphetamine for a long period of time may and often will, lead to drug dependence. And if a drug like Adderall is misused, there is the potential for sudden death, or the possibility of a traumatic cardiovascular incidence. So why are so many students willing to put their bodies and lives at such grave risk? What is driving them? Grades. College co-eds complain that the pressure they receive from parents, professors, paired with the competition of their peers, is just all too much to bear. There aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish everything they want, and popping a few pills to help them burn the midnight oil can mean the difference between finishing an essay on time, or dropping out of school altogether.
This is actually a quote from an anonymous seventeen female college student from Chicago about her experience with Adderall: “Once I got my first A from using a drug the night before, I continued using it. It was my crutch. It kept me awake, allowed me to study for eight hours, and improved my grades. The crash was a minor side effect to me. I merely felt exhausted and a bit shaky. Well worth it, I would think.” This same student was part of a unique four year study that was conducted by several universities and her quote was something that was echoed throughout the entire study. What was so startling about the study was that almost none of the students that had admitted to using drugs to enhance their study experience regretted it. Many of them reported unpleasant and even frightening side effects, but they found that these students found that the benefits far outweighed the risks.
So what do we make of all of this? Why is it that colleges and universities haven’t started clamping down on this sort of behavior. And why hasn’t this behavior become part of the anti-plagiarism campaigns that you generally see all over campus, is this not just another form of cheating the system? Why, for $5 a pill, should these students who can’t ‘handle the pressure’ be permitted to take exams and submit work alongside students that conduct their studies drug free? In this ‘age of enlightenment’, perhaps it’s time to start cracking down on the real cheaters.
Posted: August 13, 2012 at 6:56 pm
Hi there, and welcome back to another post here on Sober Learning. I thought that I would chat with you a moment about both the prevalence and overuse of recreational drug among two friends of mine, and what repercussions they’re facing for making that fateful decision. I’ve been in Europe for the last couple of weeks, and had the opportunity to spend some time with some really great friends of mine, one of whom has just graduated from a reputable online college in the UK and another who graduated from Bristol University. Each of them graduated with degrees in psychology and drug counseling, but each for very different reasons.
The first one was actually working towards an English Literature degree, to become a teacher to go work in developing countries, but something really startling happened to her along the way. She was up one night, quite late, trying to study in the school library at Bristol University. She had been struggling to keep her eyes open, as it had been a grueling two weeks of exams. One of her girlfriends came into the library, and asked my friend if she wanted to take a break from her studying to get high. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time, as my girlfriend has used marijuana regularly, but this was going to be a very different experience, one that would change her for the rest of her life.
The drug that was given to my friend was ketamine in a powdered form. It was a drug that was meant to mimic sensations that you felt when you were on ecstasy, but far more intense. After one use, my friend was hooked, literally. She started sneaking out in the middle of the day, in between her classes, to go get high with her new ‘friends.’ What was frightening was that my friend didn’t even realize that ketamine was in fact a horse tranquilizer, and was completely illegal for anyone to use it, let alone some irresponsible college student. Thankfully, a co-worker that had been watching my friend’s work ethic plummet said something and got my friend some help. After her experience, she decided that she needed to go into drug counseling and psychology. She couldn’t believe that someone like herself, an honors student, someone from a really good home, someone with a set of high values, could fall so easily for a hard drug like Ketamine. One might say that it was her use of marijuana that encouraged it, but she had been using that for over five years, and had never even considered taking another drug, until that fateful night in the library.
My other friend who also graduated, was originally a business administration major. But she also had a ketamine experience in her early years at university. She was at a nightclub, and people were just giving it away for free. She took it and said it was the most amazing ‘trip’ of her life. It took her an extra year to finish her degree because she had to drop out in the last year. My friend had a ketamine overdose, and had to have her bladder surgically removed because of all the damage she had done to it. Her life has been dramatically shortened, she lives in constant pain, and she’ll never be able to just get on a plane to visit different places in the world.
If you want a euphoric high, opt for a natural one. Take a rock-climbing course, or run a marathon, but putting a drug in your body that could cause the loss of body parts? Is it really worth it?
Posted: June 26, 2012 at 5:59 pm
In the last couple of months there have been some rather horrifying new stories that have streamed through our televisions and into our living room. For a while there, I couldn’t keep up with all of the zombie apocalypse jokes, and while it’s all fun and good to make light of sinister situations, this is something that personally, I find both terrifying and gravely serious. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, I’m speaking on the apparent epidemic of consuming bath salts. I remember when I first heard the story, I had to do a double take. Bath salts are something that I toss into the bathtub at the end of a difficult day to help soothe me and make my skin soft, but apparently there is an entirely different way to use them, one that could only be dreamed up in some Stephen King novel.
If you don’t remember, back on May 26, a Miami police officer shot and killed a homeless man who was allegedly eating the face of another homeless man. Now, as an anthropologist, this is perhaps something I would expect to read 10,000 years ago (of course there weren’t police officers, but you know what I mean). Cannibalism is not something that is part of our everyday culture, and when it has existed, it was for very specific reasons like famine. But in this case, it was because the suspect was actually high on a synthetic cocaine (bath salts). Even after the suspect was ordered at gunpoint to stop eating the man’s face, he refused, and unfortunately, that’s when he lost his life. What is so frightening is not only the act itself, but the fact that the man was so overtaken by the drug, there was no reason left within him. And though that case was over a month ago, there have been several more incidences which have pointed to this same bath salt drug.
So what are bath salts exactly, and why are they making people act like they’re possessed by some sort of demon? Well, experts haven’t been able to determine what’s in them exactly, because the cocktails found in drug users is so varied, it’s hard to tell. It has been suggested that methylenedioxypyrovalerone are a major component, but scientists have also found that several of these bath salts have a blend of all sorts of chemicals and synthetics. A common misconception perpetuated by the media, is that these bath salts are exactly just that, bath products, like Epsom salt or something, but they are in fact salts that are not suitable for human consumption, and it says so right on the label.
So what are the symptoms? Well, we already know that cannibalism might be one of them! But mostly, symptoms manifest in the form of agitation, extreme anger outbursts, extreme chest pains, hallucinations, a blood pressure that shoots through the roof and most frightening, suicidality (to act of wanting to commit suicide). When police are called to apprehend users of bath salts, these users exhibit signs of super human strength, and appear to have an incredibly tolerance for pain, something that is obviously completely abnormal. Experts don’t even know if these drugs are addictive, because the only cases that are reported, are extreme ones, so there is still data to be found on that. And like many other drugs, users are putting it into their system whatever way they can whether it’s snorting it, shooting it, or mixing it in with their morning cereal. Though there is a ban in many places around North America on bath salts, police and authorities still have their hands full trying to collect data, and trying to protect the general at large from bath-salt wielding maniacs.
Posted: May 20, 2012 at 12:41 am
Being a college student in this day in age it seems for some, is full of challenges and pitfalls. For me, the last couple of years have been the most rewarding of my entire life. I realize that it’s different when you’re an adult, because when you go to class, it’s because you actually want to, and not because your parents told you to. You don’t skip classes, because you understand the value of a dollar, and every penny you earn is an investment in your own future. And the best part of being a mature student, the level of respect that you can yield from professors that otherwise wouldn’t see if you were just a faceless first year, straight out from under mommy and daddy’s wing. As an adult student, I had already spent a decade out in the workforce, done a significant amount of travelling and brought a certain sense of maturity and wisdom to the classroom. A mature student doesn’t sit there in the classroom wondering “what can I do with a political science degree“, they already know, which is why they’re there in the first place; It’s about making your dreams materialize.
Something else that most mature students don’t struggle with is the pressure to take drugs to get themselves through a semester. I recently read an article about parents worrying about their children binge drinking and experimenting with hard drugs, when they should really be concerned with prescription drugs. College students aren’t necessarily looking to take drugs to get high, they’re taking drugs to increase their learning capacity, they’re taking drugs to be smarter. Yep, that had me scratching my head too. Taking drugs to get smart, hmmm. Well it seems that Adderall seems to be the drug of choice for college students trying desperately to hold on to your their scholarships or to make sure they stay on the Dean’s List. What’s disturbing about this particular drug is that it’s usually prescribed for things like Attention Deficit Disorder and Narcolepsy, and like most prescription drugs, it has a laundry list of side effects that most college students ignore completely.
College students that take Adderall claim that it allows them to function at a level that they never have before. It can help turn an 8 hour day into a 14 hour day, and it can actually help to stave off sleep so students can maximize the amount of time they have to study. The danger in that of course, is that the body can only go on for so long before it starts to shut down. Trust me, sleep starving your body spells disaster for your immune system. What these students don’t realize is that this particular drug is almost no different than taking Speed, and some of the side effects include mood swings, panic attacks, and depression. I don’t know about you, but depression is not exactly something I would want to be grappling with while I was dealing with the stresses of an overwhelming semester. I would want clarity.
Doing this drug more than once puts you at risk for addiction, and this is not something you want to get hooked on. Look, school may be difficult, but there are millions of other students that went through college before you, received their diploma and degrees, all without putting some foreign poison in your body. If I can work a forty hour work week, and go through university full time, and maintain a relationship and social circle, than absolutely anyone can do it. When I’m conducting research, working on a term paper, or studying for a final exam, I want to feel clear and lucid. Drugs are individuals who are sick, not those looking to get ahead.