Dec 052011
Authors: Audrey Purdue

CSU, as we prepare for finals week and the upcoming winter break, I would like to take the time to express condolences to the family and friends of Sean McGowan. The loss of a fellow Ram is always tragic news. ASCSU envisions creating a campus community where students are educated on health and the resources that are available, as well as ensuring that students feel confident in accessing them.

I would like to take the time to inform the campus of the health risks involved in substance use along with campus resources available to assist with substance abuse. The most common substances used by college students are alcohol, marijuana and the ever-increasing use of prescription drugs.

By far, the most common substance used by college students is alcohol, due to the accessibility and legal aspects; with this being said, there is a significant difference between enjoying the occasional drink and becoming belligerent. By impairing function of the prefrontal cortex of the brain, alcohol puts the users into dangerous situations that they would not otherwise find themselves in.

These risks are not limited to but include: lower GPA, unintentional injury, unprotected sex, assault, increased smoking behavior and driving while under the influence. Long-term health risks involved in heavy drinking include subpar brain function, heart disease and liver cirrhosis.

Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the US. Tetrahydrocannabinol, more commonly known as THC, is the active ingredient in marijuana responsible for the calming sensation associated with smoking. According to The National Institute on Drug Abuse, THC binds to the cannabinoid receptors in the brain which then impairs short-term memory, judgment/decision making, increases heart rate and alters moods.

Driving under the influence of marijuana is just as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol –– marijuana slows down reaction time in the brain. The amount of tar and carbon monoxide in one cigarette is amplified by three to five times in marijuana smoke. THC is addictive and over time, Higher Education Center found that heavy use of marijuana weakens mental function and information processing.

According to Andrea Coryell, Assistant Director of Alcohol and Other Drugs for the CSU Health Network, prescription pills and academic doping are on the rise among college students. Prescription abuse is defined as using medication without a prescription or misusing a prescription. There are a variety of prescription drugs that are abused from painkillers like OxyContin, central nervous system depressants, sedatives and stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin.

Taking drugs without a prescription has harmful effects to the body. The Higher Education Center reports that abuse of painkillers leads to difficulties in theoretical thinking, and while the use of academic doping is perceived as an improvement, long-term abuse leads to drug dependence and academic failure.

There is an assortment of reasons why students choose to experiment with various substances. From the desire to improve academic performance to the need to relax and de-stress, substance use cannot be pinpointed down to one motive. However, it has been found that self-medicating leads to more mental and emotion problems than ever imaged.

It is up to us to take care of one another, CSU! Know that as students we are not alone. There are resources available that we can use. The CSU Health Network Counseling Services is a great resource on campus. Their office is located in Aylesworth Hall next to Braiden Hall; walk-in hours are Mondays, Wednesdays to Fridays from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Tuesdays from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. They may also be contacted via phone at 970-491-6053. Their “After Hours Counseling” call line is 970-491-7111. Counseling Services’ Drugs, Alcohol and You (DAY) Program offers services to students who are concerned about their substance use. Educating yourself is a way to prevent substance misuse.

Great websites to check out include the CSU Health Network, National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. There is no shame in seeking help –– I encourage all students to take care of each other and recognize when friends need help. Let’s pledge to prevent the loss of another student at CSU.

Audrey Purdue is the Health Coordinator for Associated Students of Colorado State University.

 Posted by at 3:02 pm

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