(Photo: Jetset Minds)
By: Alanna Shingler, Editor
This is the final part of a three-part series to gain insight into the culture of drug use at Regis University.
“Why do we want to escape?” is the real question, psychologist Laura Thompson asked when I sat down to talk with her. Thompson is a licensed professional counselor with a focus on substance abuse and I wanted to get her take on students’ relationship with drugs at Regis.
“What people use says something about what they want to feel,” she explained. People who use uppers, like cocaine, might be feeling down or “in a funk” and are looking to feel. People who enjoy downers, like weed, often experience excess anxiety and smoke to feel okay or to simply not feel.
She knows that the popular drugs at Regis are alcohol, marijuana, LSD, mushrooms, ecstasy, cocaine, Xanax, and Adderall. She admits that is hard to gauge drug use at Regis specifically, but research shows that college-aged students who are enrolled in school drink more than people their age who do not go to college.
Currently, she has a grant to gain insight into students’ perceptions of drug use on campus. After surveying 200 students, she is finding that people think that their peers are smoking marijuana or using cannabis-related products way more than they actually are. In short, there appears to be a belief that “everybody’s doing it” that simply doesn’t hold up.
We discussed the possibilities of use turning into abuse, which can certainly happen to the average college student. Thompson explained the spectrum of substance use, which ranges from abstinence to addiction. She talked about how she nearly always smells weed near campus when she walks to school in the morning. It makes her wonder, “How many people are mixing up cocktails before class in the morning?” and why do we view that differently than smoking weed to get through the day?
Her theory is that because marijuana is now legal, people assume it is totally safe. In reality, research regarding marijuana is still in the “infancy stages”, so we have no way of knowing its long-term effects. She points out, “McDonald’s is legal, but it’s not good for you. If you eat McDonald’s every day over a lifetime, it won’t end well.” Thompson’s advice to anyone taking any drug is to adopt a “more holistic approach” and practice self-awareness when it comes to substance intake.