By Caitlin Ogg
The life of a university student is generally one filled parties, late nights and crazy memories. Often these wild nights include a fair consumption of alcohol and illegal drugs. While many students feel their time and decisions in this season of life are invincible, the question being raised is: just how far are students taking this party scene?
Australia is currently facing a battle with a generation and culture that is rich with drugs. Recently released data from the 2017 Global Drug Survey revealed that more than three quarters of the Australian respondents who took part in the anonymous survey of 115,000 people “had used illegal drugs and around one in three had used them in the past month”.
While Australia’s current culture of drug taking is not as sombre as some of the other global countries who added to the international study, the findings still have a shock value to what is currently happening in the Country.
According to the survey, alcohol remains the largest consumed drug with over 90% admitting to their consumption. Cannabis takes second place of the most common (48.1%) with other popular party drugs following suit prescription opioids (22.3%) MDMA (21.4%) Benzodiazepines (17.7%) Cocaine (17.5%) and LSD (12.15).
A Little Closer to Home
The Central West is one area of concern, as research has shown that those using drugs such as crystal methamphetamine in rural Australia is more than double the numbers of those in metropolitan areas. One of the environments in which the drug culture has made its home is among the students at universities.
One local campus, Bathurst Charles Sturt University, is well known for their party scene. However the local students are starting to voice their opinions on how they truly feel about this environment. One second year theatre media student spoke of her dislike for the culture of drugs on campus, in the young student’s opinion “It’s not good for you, people don’t manage it right people are also incredibly immature when it comes to it, it’s also incredibly expensive and it just leads to a whole bunch of problems that young people are really trying to get themselves out of,” she said.
However she felt it necessary to state that she believes it’s important to not take the stance that “All drugs are bad,” she says, “There is obviously a debate we need to have, as a culture, around what is safe, what we can and can’t do”.
Not all students share this attitude of caring for the state of their peers. One student spoke of her little interest in the lives of those around her, “I don’t really mind,” she said “People are obviously doing it and they can do that if they want, its people’s lives, people’s choices”. When asked further on her positioning of the whether this culture was good or bad, she inferred that any “Excessive use is obviously bad,” but she continued to explain that “One on a fun night out” is an appropriate and common custom among students.
Battling this Culture
With this accepted ethos amid students, one of the biggest concerns is who is there to catch these students when they fall from the high?
For Charles Sturt University, this responsibility falls to the residential advisors located in the dormitories on campus. Head Residential Advisor (RA), Caitlin Flint, tells of the support network that someone in this position gives to the students facing the prevalence of drugs and alcohol during their time of studies. The responsibility these RA’s have for the students on campus is one of high importance. “Anything from pastoral care involving drugs and alcohol when things go wrong, mental health, we always try to catch it before it escalates a little bit too far,” she explained, “We also look after the social side of things as well, so that could be finances, any family dramas and obviously academia which is what they are here [at university] for, to get a degree,” said the Head RA.
The three year running RA spoke of how this is a tricky phase of life for students, where it is the norm that everyone wants to be trying new things. But her duty is to keep these students on track so that “they have something to look forward to in the future”.
“We’re not cops,” said Ms Flint, “We’re not here to tell people that they can’t do drugs and alcohol”. Ms Flint’s approach is a stance of support rather than prohibition.
“If something goes wrong we will help them pick up the pieces. If they are unconscious in the bathroom we’ll take them to the hospital, we’ll get them fixed. There’ll be no repercussions for that student because they will have learnt their own lesson. It’s a personal growth thing,” She explained.
A Story to Share
The culture of drugs on campus is one that takes down many students during their studies. To shed light on the affects it could have, 2MCEextra sat down with one student who opened up on just how hard he fell in order to pick himself back up again.
Watch the full interview below…