In recent years, anti-drug commercials have been on the rise, filling our television breaks with messages of encouragement to “just say no.” Partnership for a Drug Free America has been especially vocal in discouraging youth from experimenting with “party drugs.” But with all of the drug-free propaganda aimed specifically at teenagers and college students, one cannot help but wonder if the use of these drugs is really as popular with the college community as governmental agencies seem to think.
Ecstasy, the drug most commonly associated with party drugs, has been especially popular at raves. These dance parties last for hours, and Ecstasy can give the user enough energy to keep up with the fast-paced atmosphere. The high typically lasts for six hours, with side effects including teeth grinding and significant heart rate increase.
But Ecstasy isn’t the only substance identified under the blanket term “party drugs.” Other drugs include Speed, which has often times been linked to students trying to find the time and energy to balance all of their responsibilities. Ketamine, or Special K, an intense horse tranquilizer, has been gaining popularity from users searching for something to mellow them out. Even LSD, a hallucinogenic drug most popular in the 1960s and commonly referred to as Acid, has made a comeback since the late 1990s.
Users who are uninformed of the side effects of these drugs put themselves in harmful and potentially fatal situations. Many of these drugs can lead to respiratory failure or possible paralysis. It is common for the user to lose control of their body movements, with intense shakes and trembles being reported by several users.
Parties are undeniably a part of the college scene, with “thirsty Thursdays” becoming an unavoidable fact of life for most college students. The use of the aforementioned “party drugs,” however, is hardly as prevalent on campus as the simple use of alcohol.
Freshman Ashley Dencsy agreed and said that harder drugs may not be as prominent because “drinking has less severe consequences and people can do it without any severe immediate repercussions.” She also said that while a person can control the amount they drink, they cannot control the severity of the effects of the drug.
The fact is, however, that there are going to be people experimenting with these drugs on college campuses across the country.
“The fascination with psycho-active drugs such as Ecstasy and Acid is that everything is enhanced – the actual physical touch is enhanced to almost orgasmic proportions,” senior Oliver Campbell said.
One recent Temple graduate, who was well known in the Greek community and a frequent partier, recalled the use of these drugs at various social events. While he asked to remain anonymous and claimed that he personally has never tried any drugs, he remembers the use of ecstasy to be “common enough that at large parties there would be at least a few people on it, but it was not like an epidemic.”
Most students, however, would agree that the use of these drugs is far more common elsewhere. While Temple does have a steady social scene, the use of less severe drugs seems to be most prominent.
“I go to parties a lot here, usually two times a week for the past two years, and I can honestly say that I’ve seen hard drugs here under 50 times. That seems like a lot but at my friends schools it’s every single night,” sophomore Kimberly O’Mara said.
Dr. Jeremy Frank, certified addictions counselor and coordinator of the Campus Alcohol and Substance Awareness program, finds that often times the draw that college students feel towards these drugs can be unconscious.
“Some people come to school and feel disconnected and lonely, and drugs help them to relax and connect with others,” Frank said. He also said that some college students want to rebel and differentiate themselves from their parents through the use of experimentation. While the use of hard drugs on campus is not a prevalent problem, Frank was excited to announce that CASA just recently finished some research that will detail the specifics of drug use at Temple. To reach CASA, or to set up an appointment for free and confidential counseling, students can go to Tuttleman Counseling Services in the basement of Sullivan Hall.
While the aforementioned party drugs may not be typically present on Temple’s campus, all drug use is discouraged. The consequences of drug use go far beyond physical and health related problems.
“Students found in possession of narcotics are usually arrested,” said Joyce Pickersgill of the investigations unit of Campus Safety Services.
On a lighter note, there has been a steady decrease in drug related arrests on main campus since 2001.
Deaths as a result of use of these drugs is most common with young adults, which is why so much time and energy is spent trying to promote a “just say no” lifestyle.
Jessica Cohen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.