Designer drug use increases among students

Kari Petrie

Designer drug use among University students is up 6 percent since 1998, according to a 2001 Student Health Survey conducted by Boynton Health Service.

Designer drugs include Ecstasy, methamphetamines and gamma hydroxyl butyrate.

The study, which randomly surveyed 1,168 University students ages 18-24, also showed a 3 percent increase in amphetamine use.

“This is the first time (a designer drug use increase) has shown up in one of our surveys, so we’re a little surprised,” said Dave Golden, public health director at Boynton.

Ecstasy is a drug derived from amphetamine and puts the user in a relaxed, friendly mood. Little is known about the long term effects, but Golden said Ecstasy affects short-term memory and elevates blood pressure.

“It’s a scary drug,” Golden said. “I would hate to see people mess up their lives or academics with it.”

According to the survey, one-third of those who used drugs in the past year said their academics were affected by usage.

“This could be as little as missing class or as serious as dropping a class,” Golden said.

Amphetamines speed up the body’s functions and cause an increase in energy. Long-term effects include malnutrition, violent behavior and brain damage.

Both amphetamines and designer drugs have been known to cause death in some cases.

Cocaine use has also increased from 2.8 percent in 1998 to 4.6 percent last year. However, the survey found fewer than 3 percent of students use cocaine, opiates or sedatives.

Marijuana use also has increased in the past three years. Infrequent users, those who use one to five days per month, increased 2.4 percent. Frequent users, or those who use 20 to 30 days per month, increased 0.4 percent.

Golden said comparing usage within 30 days and within a year shows that most use is episodic or short-term.

National and statewide drug use trends mirror the University’s, Golden said.

He said he plans to give more “straight-forward information” to students about the negative effects of Ecstasy and amphetamines in order to help combat increased usage.