Survey: Drug use not widespread at NIU

By Maria Tortorello

According to NIU’s Health Enhancement Service, the latest local research indicates that drug abuse at NIU is not as severe as people may think.

Michael Haines, coordinator of Health Enhancement Services, stated in a survey conducted by Health Enhancement, NIU’s results relating to drugs and alcohol are very similar to the national ratings of college students.

“NIU’s statistics are virtually identical to national ratings, if not a little better,” Haines said.

In 1991, national ratings state approximately 85 percent of the college students surveyed said they did not use any illicit drugs in the last 30 days. In the same year, 73 percent of the college students nationally said they did not use any illicit drugs in the last year.

There are very few cases of addiction to drugs reported on campus. The main reason for fewer addictions is because of the general college atmosphere, he said.

“Environment is a major factor of addiction,” Haines said. “The college environment is not addictive.”

In most of the drug cases at NIU, students use the drugs once or twice, or because others are doing it, Haines said.

“Most of the drug cases are mainly recreational drug users or people who do it once or twice,” said Larry Bolles, director of the judicial office.

“The most common way students at NIU use drugs is for leisure or for utilitarian use, like aspirin for headaches.” Haines said.

However, most of the faculty who work with drug cases at NIU say that the number of drug cases has been decreasing through the years.

“The number of cases have definitely fallen,” said Darsha Primich, a social worker at NIU’s counseling and development office.

“Drugs are not a major problem on campus,” Bolles added.

Since most of the cases are not as serious as addiction, Bolles said the university deals with students caught with drugs in various ways.

“Anybody caught selling drugs calls for an automatic expulsion,” he said. “If someone is caught with possession of drugs, you have to listen to the case.”

Primich said most drug and alcohol abuse situations are dealt with according to the personal causes of the abuse.

“Alcohol and drug abuse are a response to personal problems, family problems or even identity questions,” Primich said. “Therefore, there is a need for different types of counseling.”

Records show the most commonly used drug on campus is alcohol, Haines said.

“Alcohol is by far the most widely used drug at NIU, with 80 percent of the students falling into this category,” he said.

“The major drug around here is beer,” Bolles said in agreement.

Statistics also show that 23 percent of the students use tobacco, 14 percent use marijuana and two percent use other forms of drugs.