Marijuana in College the College Years Term Paper

Pages: 5 (1841 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Sports - Drugs

¶ … Marijuana in College

The college years are a period of development, which means that students are likely to participate and escalate their use of highly risky substances, and then find that these substances from their college years have bad effects on their lives on into their post-college years.

There have been a few studies of college students' expectations concerning marijuana use in college, or as being part of their college experience. In the research done by Rumstein, who studied the physiological, psychological, social effects of marijuana in college students, 210 students responses about their expectations about the effects of marijuana were largely contrary to data and tended to discount the potentially harmful consequences of the drug. Its use was considered mostly as an educational issue and decriminalization was strongly favored among the respondents. These students differed significantly in what the effects of use were. Women seemed to hold more disapproving attitudes about the use of marijuana, reported greater difficulties in obtaining the drug, used it less frequently, and knew fewer marijuana smokers (Rumstein 1978).

A later study found that students largely discounted the psychological consequences of using it and expected marijuana to have a sedating effect. The nonusers, users and occasional users differed significantly in expectations (Rumstein 1980).

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Another study looked at drinking and marijuana use, and examined predictors of heavy drinking frequency and drinking-related problems among 600 students. This study found that more frequent heavy drinking was predictable if the student was male, used marijuana frequently and smoked tobacco. These students participated in social events in order to cover their use of alcohol, marijuana and cigarettes, but they also experienced anxiety and negative social justice commitment (Fenzel 130).

Term Paper on Marijuana in College the College Years Are Assignment

There are some programs in place in colleges designed to help students in drug prevention, though there have been only a few studies done on the population that is helped by these programs. On the other hand, there have been many studies on alcohol prevention, which has been researched extensively. Many helpful programs are designed for the drinking student, with various theories and methods for intervention, which could also be used for drug prevention and treatment in other populations, such as school-based prevention, adolescent and adult drug treatment. These could be used on college campuses, but are not because of several factors.

Alcohol is the drug of choice among most college students, particularly those 18-25 years of age. More than half of all college students or young adults have tried an illegal drug at least once in their lifetime by this age. Experimentation increases during the college years, particularly for those enrolled full time. Most individuals between 18 and 25 graduate from high school and attend some sort of post-secondary school, such as a junior college, a trade school, a college or university. Though more non-college-bound students in the 12th grade use marijuana than their college-bound peers, more college students between 18 and 22 increase their use faster than noncollege students of the same age. The rates of use equal out within three to four years after high school graduation, suggesting that college is the ideal place to have a program to prevent or intervene with use of marijuana and other drugs (Larimer, et al. 373).

The years between 18 and 25, when students attend college, are an age when these college students postpone adult roles and responsibilities, such as work, marriage and becoming parents. Attention is supposed to be focused on preparing for life, forming friendships for the future, becoming autonomous and preparing for a career. As a result, many college students are faced with interpersonal, academic and societal demands and expectations that they are not prepared for, and abuse of substances such as alcohol and marijuana may serve as constructive as well as destructive functions for students. Substance abuse provides students with opportunities to face the transition, helping them feel mature, helping them with interpersonal relations (if they have this in common with their peers), and helping them cope with all the new demands and expectations suddenly placed on them (Larimer, et al. Ibid.).

Drug use is often seen as a rite of passage for college students and experimentation is seen as normal by many. Although most students will cease or reduce their use of substances once they leave college, while they are in college Substance abuse can have negative consequences, which may hinder or prevent transition through the college and young adult years and have possible lasting consequences on the student and society. Symptoms of drug use are: he or she might seem dizzy and have trouble walking; seem silly and giggly for no reason; have very red, bloodshot eyes; and have a hard time remembering things that just happened. When the early effects fade, over a few hours, the user can become very sleepy. This is hardly the way to behave or feel in order to be a successful student.

Marijuana is the most widely used illegal drug used by adolescents, young adults and college students in the United States, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (2002), although 28% to 34% of college students and young adults have used another illicit drug at least once in their lifetime. In these studies, this percentage of young adults reported using marijuana in the past year and 13% to 18% used some other illicit drug. Based on the Monitoring the Future study by Johnston in 2004, prevalence of illicit drugs for college students decreased from the 1980s through the mid-1990s, but the trend then reversed and began leveling out in 2002. More recent studies indicate that the most prevalent drugs other than marijuana include hallucinogens, amphetamines, cocaine and MDMA or Ecstasy. While the widespread use of drugs during the past year or some time during a student's lifetime is a cause for alarm, the incidence of daily use is more alarming. In 2003, 4.7% of college students were shown by Johnston in 2004 to use marijuana daily (30-day prevalence rates), with a rate higher for males (6.3%) than for females (3.7%) (Larimer, et al. Ibid.).

Even students with strong academic records and excellent character references experiment with alternative conduct and other life-style changes when they enter college. Alcohol may help them (they think) cope and find a drinking buddy, drug use may initiate them into a group of friends, but most students will experiment with marijuana.

One study was done on the University of Charleston, West Virginia campus in the summer of 2003. Residents reported that students in colleges across West Virginia were burning popcorn to cover the smell of the marijuana they were smoking, and in turn, setting off fire alarms throughout the state. This "burning popcorn" issue became a "hot topic" at a series of statewide alcohol symposiums being sponsored by the WV Governor's Office. When this was discovered, it was also found that West Virginia was not alone. Colleges across the nation were reporting increased judicial cases concerning students' use of marijuana. Officials reported a change in student behavior over the past several years regarding attitudes surrounding marijuana use and abuse. Over the past few years more and more judicial cases resulted from students actually smoking marijuana on campus, particularly in the residence halls. (Follow-up 1)

In October of 2000, the Associated Press reported that though college students may have problems buying beer in local bars or at liquor stores, they have no difficulty in obtaining marijuana. "It's the alternative to drinking," explained student Robert Devaney in the AP article, "To get alcohol, someone is going to make sure you're of age, whereas marijuana is easily available. I would definitely say it's a big problem on campus." (Follow-up 1)

Colleges across the nation are experiencing this boom in marijuana use. The Denver (CO) Rocky Mountain News reported more marijuana use across Colorado campuses, having interviewed students that exceeded the national average of marijuana use reported by a Harvard study, in one case more than half again as much increased use. There were 34% of students at the University of Colorado who reported they used marijuana within the month, compared with the 15.7% nationwide. At Colorado State University, 25% reported they had used pot within the last month. In addition, use of heroin, amphetamines and hallucinogens increased by nearly 21% in Colorado college students. This information was compiled by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health.

As a result of the West Virginia wake-up call, Carla Lapelle, Associate Den of Students at Marshall University (WV), increased enforcement, increased student sanctions for marijuana use and has demonstrated with videotapes and films that marijuana is not a "safe drug" that is not addictive or physically harmful. She has shown that, contrary to being a calming influence, the incidence of risky behavior on the part of users is deceptively common. These students perform poorly in the classroom and wreak havoc in the residence halls. The cavalier attitude and behavior on the part of students who use drugs with their paraphanalia tempts other students to be… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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