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Survey shows growing tendency to “self medicate”

Elizabeth Bonham, staff writer

A newly initiated Substance Use Task Force, constructed of students, faculty and staff, has been focusing on identification, explanation and prevention of drug and alcohol use on campus.

According to a student survey about substance use published before spring break and comments from members of the task force, substance issues on campus are evident in more ways than the common college stereotype.

According to the survey, which documented not only frequency and type of use, but also opinions and attitudes of respondents, there has been increased drug use on the WWC campus since the last survey in 2007. With use increased in almost every substance area, the survey showed 46 percent of students admittedly using marijuana, 11 percent of whom reported being concerned with the level of their own use. An overwhelming majority of students who used drugs regularly listed stress or self medication as the number one reason why.

While marijuana was reported to be the most commonly used illicit substance, prescription drug use and amphetamines have surged in popularity in the past two years.

From a community aspect, students reported minimal disapproval of alcohol and marijuana use in the campus community. Disapproval of tobacco use was higher by contrast, and disproval of harsher drugs was close to unanimous.

While students reported minimal direct pressure to try using, an overwhelming majority found that the WWC atmosphere either condones or promotes the use of marijuana and alcohol in moderation.

Despite a reflected passivity in taking direct action against substance use, on average half of students said that use has been disruptive to their daily lives in some way. Forty percent of students, however, felt that “the level of attention on these issues is just right” and does not need to be addressedfurther.

While there has been a documented increase in drug use, especially in comparison with national statistics, alcohol use appears to have stabilized.

In an address to Staff Forum, Dean of Students Cathy Kramer said of this news that WWC appears to be “living up to our Princeton Review number one status.” Of the Task Force exploring the issues, Kramer commented that they would be “realists” in their goal to “create a comfortable space for all students.”

The Drug and Alcohol task force is currently looking at holding focus groups in order to discuss issues from a more personal standpoint. Results from the most recent survey can be found on the WWC inside page.

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