While Van Wilder, Senator Blutarsky of “Animal House” and Frank the Tank of “Old School” are said to be extreme representations of college life, a recent study shows that they may not be too far off.

“The use of alcohol as a relaxant and social lubricant is heavily influenced by peers and is the ‘quick fix’ for students to relieve the pressures of academic rigor,” said Jeanne DiMuzio, director of counseling services.

DiMuzio’s observation concurs with a study conducted by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, which found that national collegiate trends of drinking and drug abuse have been on the rise.

The study also concluded that 49 percent of college students binge drink or abuse prescription or illicit drugs. Twenty-three percent of students in the study met the medical criteria for substance abuse or dependence.

“Probably about 98 percent of kids drink with the intent to get drunk. Alcohol is definitely is popular with students,” said Alex White ’09.

Dean of Students Thomas Pellegrino said the prevalence of alcohol and drug use on campus is revealed through student documentation.

“The vast majority of our documented referrals are for alcohol,” he said. “Further, a majority of those involve freshmen, which I think reflects a national trend that shows heavy experimentation and testing of tolerance levels in the first year of college.”

Pellegrino elaborated on the problem of student drug use in comparison to the abuse of alcoholic beverages.

“In terms of the number of documented referrals, alcohol policy violations far outnumber marijuana violations,” he said. “With marijuana, we are presented with the added problems of drug dealing and an illegal industry tied to many larger societal problems.”

Many Fairfield students agree that their peers openly discuss consuming alcohol but are private about plans involving illegal drugs.

“Alcohol is more popular, but I think the kids that use drugs do it on the low key,” said Allie Filrenza ’10.

Julie Ruggieri ’10 expressed another opinion about drugs on campus.

“Drugs cost more than alcohol. The student body is more likely to be able to afford drugs than some other schools,” said Ruggieri.

The study also concluded that abuse of prescription drugs increased considerably from 1993 to 2005, up 343 percent for stimulants such as Adderall and 93 percent for painkillers such as Vicodin.

“Although [cases of misuse] are difficult to quantify, the misuse of prescription pain killers and the associate properties have become very problematic in the adolescent population,” said DiMuzio.

John Grant ’09 agreed.

“There definitely are people who use [prescription drugs], especially Adderall,” he said.

Adderall, a drug used to treat some attention disorders, is widely used by students as a study aid because of its ability to help improve one’s focus.

“There is significant concern about the use or misuse of prescription drugs, especially Adderall,” said DiMuzio.

According to Pellegrino, Fairfield is increasing on-campus activities to deter students from engaging with drugs and alcohol.

“Fairfield addresses alcohol and other drug usage in a variety of ways,” he said. “It begins in orientation and continues with FYE programs, Residence Life, and the Office of Health and Wellness on campus.”

However, Pellegrino said that university-sponsored information and physical help for students will not overstep the boundaries of Fairfield’s code of conduct.

“We draw a clear line when behavior of a student has either exceeded the limits of our policies or support services or when behavior cannot be reconciled with the standards that all other members of the University observe,” he said.

About The Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.