When walking around campus, you might hear people passing by, telling their friends, "it was like I was living an episode of 'The Loony Tunes'" or "all we could do was cough and laugh for 20 minutes; the music stopped for like 10 minutes, and we didn't even notice."
In our culture, the use of drugs is no longer taboo. Conversations about smoking, tripping or doing lines no longer take place behind closed doors but are made openly in public places such as the dining halls.
If you look carefully when driving through campus, you may even spot a car full of people passing around marijuana pipes. But just because it may be more prevalent, even with the recent drug busts in the past few months, that doesn't mean that drug use is rampant throughout campus.
After an active investigation, the Durham Police Department arrested six individuals, including three UNH students, for drug trafficking of marijuana, hallucinogenic mushrooms and ecstasy worth $10,000. This occurred a month after a bust in January confiscating $25,000 worth of drugs and related paraphernalia. The police department would not issue a statement revealing whether the two busts were related.
According to the Durham and University Police Departments, as well as Health Services, drug use on campus has not taken a steep rise as of late, but drug enforcement has become more prominent at UNH.
Deputy Chief Rene Kelley of the Durham Police Department said the local police have focused their efforts on curbing the sale of illegal drugs and have made a number of arrests in recent months because of the new emphasis on detecting drug trafficking. He also said the department has assigned a full-time detective who specifically investigates drug sales, but he could not go further into the officer's job description.
"We recognize the need for [drug enforcement] and have refocused our efforts," he said. "We're not limiting our scope on arrests, though."
According to a Harvard survey, ecstasy use among college students rose almost 2 percent between 1997 and 1999. According to a Bureau of Justice Studies survey, the use of marijuana and cocaine has remained stable nationwide in the past few years. In a UNH survey, the percent of students who said they have not used marijuana has remained stable at about 63 percent, and students who said they have not done cocaine has risen from 91.8 percent in 2001 to 94.7 percent in 2003.
If drug use isn't rising on campus, then why does it seem that more people are doing drugs?
Brian Miller, the alcohol and other drug educator/counselor at UNH's Health Services, said it might be because of the social nature of drugs. Not a lot of drug use is going on at UNH, he said, but if you are around a group where drugs are used frequently, you might think that everyone does it, but, in reality, this isn't true.
"I don't see a lot of hard drugs being used for the most part because it's kept under wraps better than smoking bud or drinking," said one student. "But I have seen it when I get closer to groups of people; you almost can tell the comfort level when it occurs."
According to Miller, designer drug use, such as the use of ecstasy, increased on campus in 2001 from the 1998 and 1999 surveys. Marijuana use has been stable after an increase in 1999. He added that there has been an increase in people who say they have never used drugs.
"Drug use compared to drinking alcohol is miniscule in comparison at UNH, as it is at any other campus," Miller said. "Drug use gets more press time because it's more dramatic in our culture."
According to the UNH Police Department Web site, there were only two drug sale arrests in 1997, and possession arrests remained stable during 1996 and 1997 at 31 and 36 arrests, respectively.
"I wouldn't say there's been any more [drug use on campus lately]," said Capt. Dean of the UNH Police Department. "It stays average; there's been no more [use] than in the past... but it is a common ingredient in violence on campus."
Arrests for drug sale and possession vary in degrees of repercussion from hefty fines to jail time. The ramifications for students arrested on drug-related charges can also include going through the University's judicial system and result in a loss of financial aid.
"I smoke weed to relax, to get my mind off petty things and to gain a different perspective on life," said one student who said he smokes marijuana daily and has also tried mushrooms, OxyContin and smoked heroin and cocaine with marijuana. "The other drugs are much the same for me. Looking at the world in a different way can be very enlightening."
Because of the social aspect of their drugs of choice, some students don't really know if this will be a college thing or will linger into their adult lives.
"I have no idea [when I'll stop smoking marijuana]," said one student. "Whenever I feel the need not to do it, until the feeling has left me, you know?"
Others realize the problems with drug use and know when to stop.
"Drug use is a problem because of the nature of drugs," one student said. "I believe drugs are capable of being used recreationally, but it depends on the person and his or her own stability and self control."
Health Services offers many services to people who feel that their or their friends' use, is too overwhelming in their daily lives.
"If I had one message on drug use, it would be this: If you're worried about someone's drug use and want to call and talk to someone, Health Services provides free, confidential, non-judgmental counseling," Miller said. "It takes tremendous courage to call."
For some, drugs are just another aspect of their social lives. However, and they find no problem with it.
"It's like coke in the '80s," said one UNH student. "Pot is the new millennium's drug of choice. If you were to walk into a party in the '80s, there'd be people doing coke on the table; you couldn't escape it. Now, if you walk into a party, someone's probably going to ask if you want to smoke... or just hand you a blunt."
One UNH student allowed TNH to follow him for a day as he hung out and did drugs with his friends.
He wakes up on a Sunday morning hungover and stumbles from his bed to his desk. He checks his messages on AIM and opens his humidor. He pulls out two bags. The first is a bag of marijuana, out of which he pulls out a small amount and breaks it up to roll a cigarette. Afterward, he proceeds to the second bag, which is tied tight. In the darkness of his room, he turns on Grateful Dead's "Casey Jones" and looks around for a mirror and a blade. After fumbling around his desk for a few minutes, he is forced to use a CD case and his license. He pours out a small amount of cocaine and breaks the rocks into four lines on the case. He goes for his wallet and pulls out a ten-dollar bill.
"I hate doing this," he said. "I usually only use twenties, but I'm poor this week after buying this eightball."
He rolls the bill into a tube and puts his nose to the rolled-up bill and the bill to the case. Before he blows his first line, an Instant Message pops up on his computer screen. He puts the bill down and moves the case out of reach.
"Yo," he types.
"Wattup man," his friend types back.
"Nothin man, hungover as s*."
"Yeah man, me too. Burn run?"
"No doubt man, when ya wanna go?"
"True... hey, I got a jib rolled, so roll a small blunt and pick me up."
"Aight, I gotta run to the store and pick up a green leaf then, gimme like a half hour."
"Cool, cool, I'm gonna do a few lines, just gimme a ring when ya get here."
"Strizzy... see ya in a bit."
"No doubt, one."
The student puts up an away message stating "politics as usual" and goes back to his case. He blows the lines one at a time, using each nostril every other line and then puts on Jay-Z and DJ Dangermouse's "The Grey Album." He blows his nose, grabs some water from his refrigerator and reclines in his seat until he gets a phone call.
"Yo," he says, as the other line talks. "Five minutes, aight, I'll be outside."
He quickly breaks up a little more cocaine, the rest that he has, and sucks it into a cigarette to bring outside.
"I don't do coke a lot," he said, smoking the cigarette on the curb in front of his building, "just really when I feel stressed out and need the relief for a weekend. This time, I spent $140 on an eighth and did it all in about two days. Since I don't really buy that often, finding a trusting dealer is hard, so it took about three days before the deal even went down."
A black car pulls up with two people in it. He jumps in and slaps them five as the car pulls away.
They drive to an off-campus house and head in. There's only one light on in the living room, and the windows block the light with heavy curtains. They throw bags of marijuana on the coffee table as the host goes into his fridge and hands each of them a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon. One student starts breaking up the marijuana as another starts to empty out a Garcia & Vega cigar to fill it with the marijuana. The host puts Kanye West's new album on the stereo system and turns the volume up so that the students have to yell over the music to hear each other.
As they start to smoke, another man walks in. He sits down on one of the couches and joins the circle as they pass the cigar to him. Conversations of drugs and drug use commence, including purchasing mushrooms and cocaine.
"Yo, so I bought this gram for 70 last night, right? Thought, if it's good, that's not a bad price," said one student.
"Seventy's not really that bad anyway," said another.
"Yeah, so anyway, I do lines in every bathroom I'm in, and every time I do a line, I feel my heart jump; it was like I could hear my heart beat... so, I look at the bag, and the st's yellow!"
"It was f*ing yellow?! I've never seen that; that can't be good," said one, exhaling some smoke.
"Naw, it wasn't yellow, it had that tint, you know? A yellow tint."
"Yeah man, that means you got some good s*; if it has a yellow tint, that's some pretty nasty st," said the host of the house.
The five sit back and listen to the music after the cigar is smoked down to the end. After a half hour, the three leave as a few other men arrive. They head back into the car and drop the first person off.
He heads up to his room, puts on The Beatles' "Magical Mystery Tour" and lies in bed.
"Man, it's like, I dunno, I don't have to do drugs," he said. "It just chills me out a lot more when I got st on my mind than without it. And I get into a lot less trouble when I'm high than when I'm drunk. Besides, a lot of this st's a once-and-a-while kind of thing. I might smoke a while after college, but it's definitely one of those things I can do just because I don't really have that many responsibilities here."
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