Heroin and drug abuse is on the rise
Aaron Berkowitz – General Assignment Reporter
Drug abuse is an issue that affects millions of people every year. Some people seek treatment, while many do not. Concerns among Southern staff have been raised as of lately, due to recent reports of an increase in prescription drug and heroin abuse taking place on campus.
Chief Joseph Dooley said although he isn’t sure what is causing the increase in drug abuse on campus to take place, he is positive that his team of officers’ main priority is to keep the students of Southern safe by any means.
“We’ve seen a few instances where the use of heroin has been occurring and we know that it is a national epidemic,” said Dooley. “It’s extremely dangerous, not only because of it’s natural effects, but because you never know what it is being ‘cut’ [the process of mixing other substances into the drug with the intention of resale] with. We will continue working with other groups on campus to spread more awareness. Awareness leads to prevention.”
Dooley said along with teaming up with the Drug and Alcohol Resource Center, the campus police are also holding their annual Citizen’s Police academy to help educate people on the issue.
“The academy will begin Wednesday, Feb. 25,” said Dooley. “We hope that the campus signs up to learn what they can do to help put an end to not only drug abuse, but other issues that occur on campus.”
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in 2009 23.5 million people from the ages of 12-years-old and up required treatment for a drug that was not intended for medical use. Heroin and other opiates accounted for one of the largest percentages with just over 20 percent being recorded.
Hearing that heroin use has increased on campus, shocked students. Eli Reeves, senior recreation and leisure major, said he had no idea the drug was on campus in the first place.
“I mean it’s college so hearing that people are smoking weed and drinking is normal,” said Reeves. “Heroin though? People are crazy. I’ve never personally seen anyone use the drug before, except for in movies.”
Janirhar Scotland, senior psychology major, said she understands people can sometimes resort to drugs to escape their issues and hopes that they get the help they need before it is too late.
“All in all, I’m not surprised. I’ve never seen anyone abusing these type of drugs on campus, but if I found out someone I knew was abusing drugs, I would definitely steer them towards getting help because I know the longer you wait the harder it is to break the addiction,” said Scotland. “I have seen it in some of the more sketchy neighborhoods, but at the time I was too young to understand what was going on and didn’t care to stop it. I was just a child.”
Sarah Michaud, director in the Drug and Alcohol Resource Center, said the presence of drug abuse on campus does not surprise her because of her experience in the field and one of her office’s goals is to make people aware of the long-term effects using these drugs.
“It’s so important to start these types of conversations and make more people aware of these drugs,” said Michaud. “It’s not talked about as much as the abuse of alcohol or marijuana and some of the other drugs that are more common, but the importance is just as high. This can be life threatening.”
She also explained that their main goal is not to get students in trouble, but to keep them safe.
“We don’t want students afraid to pick the phone up if they see someone who may be in danger, regardless if they know them or not,” said Michaud. “Last April, we got the approval to implement ‘The Good Samaritan Medical Amnesty Statement,’ which explains to students that they can call for help without the fear of getting in trouble. We want to change that thinking of students because their have been lots of deaths where maybe someone could have been saved, but no one made any calls because they were afraid. We don’t want that to happen, our main concern is that the person in danger gets medical attention.”
Michaud said her office is doing more student outreach this semester and will be visiting Farnham Programming Space Monday, March at 6 p.m. to spread more information about the dangers of drug abuse as well as some of the campus policies. She encourages anyone who is seeking more information to contact the Drug and Alcohol Resource Center at (203) 392-5074/5087 or at www.drugabuse.gov.