By Sophia Tuttle
In an attempt to halt the recent increase in methamphetamine use in the United States, Mills is educating students about the nature of the drug and its highly addictive properties.
Informative posters were hung in the entry of each dorm at the start of the school year, showing residents the chemical contents of the drug, ways to recognize addiction and pictures of methamphetamine users before and after their addictions.
Methamphetamine use is on the rise in nearly every demographic in the country, but is reaching epidemic proportions in the gay community and among women, according to a study conducted by the Community Epidemiology Work Group.
“It’s just the popular drug right now,” said Mills Health Director Cynthia Turner. “I think if people really realized how dangerous the drug is, they would have more concern before using it.”
The Division of Student Life decided to hang the posters to help students make important life decisions. “From our perspective, it wasn’t ‘Don’t use methamphetamine,’ but rather to put up a message and let folks make their best decision,” said Director of Residential and Commuting Life Lael Sigal.
Methamphetamine has become popular in this country mainly because of its accessibility. In California alone, 674 methamphetamine labs were discovered in the past five years, according to CEWG.
The drug is easy to produce in small spaces and its ingredients are easy to obtain. This helps keep street prices much lower than other illicit substances like cocaine and MDMA (ecstasy).
“It is certainly accessible whether on the campus or off the campus, it definitely is accessible,” said Turner.
Many MDMA and cocaine users are now switching to methamphetamine because of its accessibility, ignorant of its toxic properties. It is also becoming more and more common for anorexics to become addicted, because methamphetamine is often used as an appetite suppressant, according to www.drugs.com.
Over 70 percent of people who use methamphetamine more than once become addicted, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Methamphetamine makes you want methamphetamine and only methamphetamine,” said Turner.
A 2004 study, “Monitoring the Future,” said 6.2 percent of high school students have reported use of methamphetamine. The study also shows citizens between the ages of 18 and 24 report the highest frequency of methamphetamine use; nearly seven percent have used within the past year.
“It is definitely happening on campus,” said Turner, who acknowledges that the challenge now becomes working with the community to simultaneously prevent use and aid addicted students.
Turner would like to see a permanent position in the DSL for a substance abuse specialist. “What I’m pushing for on our campus is to have a substance counselor to deal with education outreach and counseling,” she said.
The posters will be continually replaced by those on another topic by DSL, and the next topic will address Hurricane Katrina. “Our philosophy is to educate students on a variety of different topics,” Sigal said.