Students face many challenges while attending college; addiction is one of them. Addiction to prescription or illegal drugs can destroy an academic career and every dream in a student’s life.

“The students that come for counseling for the use of drugs, experience lack of interest in school. As a consequence they find themselves skipping class because of ‘hangovers’ and have difficulties studying,” said Tracey Williams, licensed professional counselor at Tyler Junior College.

According to the National Crime Prevention Council, during 2008 the use of prescription drugs increased 18 percent between young adults compared to the 2006 statistics. Young adults who drink alcohol are 7.5 times more likely to use prescription or illicit drugs and 50 times more likely to use cocaine than those who never drink alcohol.

According to police reports, on Feb. 9, during a fire alarm test in Lewis Hall, any students who did not follow procedures were required to participate in a room check. While checking these rooms, Campus Safety found many dorm violations. In one room, alcohol bottles were discovered. Angela Nunez, director of residential life and housing, perceived an odor of marijuana and two pipes were discovered and a glass pipe was confiscated; the residents are under investigation.

“It is hard to avoid drugs when you know that many of your friends have tried them and they tell you it is an experience like any other, but they don’t tell you about the negative effects,” said Eric Tarango, student at TJC.

According to Medlineplus.com, 20 percent of people in the United States have used prescription drugs for non-medical reasons. In 2003, more than 6.3 million Americans reported use of prescription drugs for non-medical purposes. Prescription drugs like OxyContin cause constipation, drowsiness and slow breathing when used without professional supervision. Stimulants like Adderall increase attention, but also raise blood pressure and heart rate. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, marijuana is the most commonly abuse illicit drug in the United States. Marijuana was responsible for 16 percent of all admissions to treatment facilities. During 2006, admissions to treatment facilities were primarily male (73.8 percent), white (51.5 percent), and young adults (36.1 percent were in the 15-19 age range).

“When a person is addicted to a prescription drug they are more likely to look for new substances without caring if the substance is illegal or dangerous,” said Felicia Mayo, professor in vocational nursing education at TJC in Jacksonville.

On Feb. 2, Campus Safety officers arrived at the Ornelas dormitory in response to a phone call regarding a strong smell of marijuana. Campus police found marijuana leaves and seeds, but one of the occupants was not in the room. When police were leaving the dorm area, the student that the officers were waiting for came walking in the officers’ direction. The student had a marijuana smell coming from his breath and his eyes were red. According to police reports the student later admitted to “being high” and Campus Police took necessary action.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, marijuana affects the brain; addiction and psychotic reactions are signs of risk for mental illnesses. Marijuana also affects the heart rate by 20-100 percent; shortly after smoking it increases dramatically the chance of a heart attack.

“We help students with addiction problems like alcohol; we receive an average of two students who are addicted or getting addicted to marijuana and just a few cases of cocaine per semester. The main purpose is to stop addiction before it consumes the student,” said Williams.

Cocaine is a strong brain stimulant and one of the most powerful addictive drugs. Cocaine is the second most used illicit drug (following marijuana) in the United States. One out of four Americans between the age of 26 and 34 has used cocaine in their lifetime. During 2004, there were 12,166 Federal drug arrests for cocaine.

Short-term effects of cocaine, snow, big C, or coke are constricted blood vessels, depression, fatigue and irritability. Long-term effects are paranoia, ulceration of the mucous membrane of the nose and memory lost, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

For more information, contact the Tyler Junior College Campus Safety Department at (903) 510-2258 or for help or counseling call Tracey Williams at (903) 510-2041.

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