Just say no. Those are all too familiar words. These three simple monosyllabic words were drilled into our heads over and over again in the drug education we received. When you think about it, the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) we had in elementary and middle schools did not really address the facts of substance abuse. Counterproductively, it evoked the motto parents would often have for saying no to us. How many times have we all been told “no” by mom or dad and gotten the unsatisfying response of, “Because I said so?”
The recent death of freshman Justin Warfield, a Westminster Choir College student, as a result of an alleged heroin overdose serves as a tragic reminder that we all must heed. As of late, our attention has been focused on reducing dangerous and abusive drinking and underage consumption of alcohol on campus. All this may have done is divert our awareness to the point where we may have neglected another problem that has gone unnoticed — student drug use. Some may be quick to react and accuse the media that their coverage on drugs is only blowing things out of proportion.
Usually, no news is good news. This time such a notion may be an indication of quite the opposite. The abuse of illegal substances is a national problem affecting many colleges and universities including Rider. To be fair, it is important to realize that students don’t come to college without knowledge of drugs and alcohol. In 2001, 3.1 percent of high school students reported the use of heroin in their lifetime. Two years later, 3.3 percent said they had tried this drug and in 2005 2.4 percent admitted to use of the illegal substance, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
So, what is the University to do? Although there is no silver bullet that will completely solve the problem, the University must educate. That doesn’t mean wagging its finger like Big Brother. But teaching can help.
Students — pay attention — here is a pop quiz. Did you know that heroin does not have the same reaction with every individual? Did you know that the first time you try it you could become addicted? Do you know what causes one to become addicted to heroin? The answers to these questions are not going to boost your grade point average but they could prevent a life or death situation.
What makes heroin so dangerous is that the reaction an individual may have to it is unpredictable. One may be able to use the drug recreationally and another may be addicted using it only once. The toll it takes on the body is scary once you know what it does. Heroin causes an increase in the amount of endorphins the body produces creating “the high” users feel. As a result, the body will receive a trigger that it does not need to produce endorphins causing the individual to become addicted to heroin. The purity of heroin, which one can never be sure about, is what can make it so lethal.
By now, we are mature enough to make responsible decisions. And maybe it’s time for a crash course to remind you who your true friends are. Your friend is not the one who stands by watching you drink too much. Your friend is not the one pushing you to experiment with drugs or do something you don’t want to. Let’s stop the racist and snide banter that is going on and let’s start acting like a community that looks out for each other. Above all, it’s time we start acting like adults who make wise decisions and take ownership of the future.
Written By Opinion Editor, Jamie Papapetros