College student alcohol and drug use rise blamed on recession, bleak future

Dave Masko's picture

EUGENE, Ore. – America's economic recession -- that began in 2008, and has hit Oregon hard ever since with double-digit unemployment numbers and the nation’s highest homeless statistics -- is to blame, in part, for the University of Oregon and hundreds of other top universities getting high marks for a jump in alcohol and drug use.

“The University of Oregon might not rank in the Princeton Review’s or Playboy’s lists of top party schools, but recent data from the U.S. Department of Education suggest that alcohol and drug use among U of O students is high — as measured by the number of violation notices issued by campus housing officials and the Department of Public Safety,” Eugene’s Register Guard newspaper reported June 4. “It’s really not that surprising,” said student Sean Roney, a junior. “UO is a great party school; we have good sports teams, and drinking is a big thing associated with that,” the newspaper reported June 4. In turn, the goverment study focuses on high drinking and drug use as a nationwide mental and physical health concern; at the same time as the recession was squeezing Americans of both their money and confidence.

Drinking and drug use heavy on college campus these days, state government findings

While such news is not a surprise for Eugene locals who enjoy the claim to fame of having a party school where National Lampoon’s “Animal House” was filmed.
Animal House came out in 1978, with the late “party animal” John Belushi staring in a film -- shot in and around the University of Oregon – about a misfit group of drunk and stoned fraternity friends who challenge their school administrators.

“According to the 2009 federal data, the University of Oregon ranks No. 3 out of more than 200 comparably sized schools for the rate of students who are referred by housing, public safety and other campus officials for violating drug rules, and No. 4 for the number of students referred for violating alcohol rules,” the Register Guard added in a recent report.

The report is also mirrored by government health officials concern that Americans are drinking too much, in general, and this rise in drinking and drug use is impacting the nation's health, as well as the outlook for the next generation of America's workers.

Drinking and drug use becomes habitual with college students in a time of recession

The release of these statistics from the U.S. Department of Education about a high rise in the number of university students who’ve abused their health by repeated drug and alcohol use comes at a time when most of America’s colleges and universities are enjoying the annual commencement activities that celebrate student achievement, while also promoting more partying to celebrate graduation.

At the same time Eugene’s Register Guard newspaper featured bold headlines on June 4 that the school ranks high for student drug and alcohol use, it’s preceded that headline on June 3 stating that “UO tuition headed up again.” The news story went on to report that “tuition at the University of Oregon will jump more than 8 percent next year – several times the current rate of inflation – under a proposal expected to be approved by the state’s high education board.”

In turn, students said they’re already strapped for cash due to the state’s double-dip unemployment, the highest percent of homeless people in the nation and a very “bleak future” with only 12 jobs listed in the Eugene newspaper for a regional population of nearly 400,000.

The Register Guard reported that “the new tuition figure would represent an increase of 132 percent since 2000.”

After hearing this news, one U of O student noted “no wonder I want to get drunk.”

Recession bad news mirrors high rates of boozing, say officials

The startling statistics from the U.S. Department of Education -- that college students started drinking and taking drugs more during the same period that the “Great Recession of 2008” kicked in – is not news to the health experts.

“Here's what I wonder: During a bad economic recession, business experts say the only industries that do well are those that sell lipstick and booze, the former because it's an inexpensive little luxury that makes people feel better, and the latter, because ... well, duh, right? Economic fears have hit teens, as well as their parents, hard the last year. College savings evaporated in the Wall Street crash, their parents' jobs are threatened, and the job outlook for new grads isn't exactly stellar. I wonder if this sudden reversal in alcohol and drug use trends may not be a reflection of that,” stated Jackie Burrell in a recent commentary on About.com.

For instance, Burrell pointed to a recent MetLife study – by the “Partnership for a Drug-Free America” – that “teen drug and alcohol use rose last year for the first time in a decade. “The data covers high school kids, 39% of whom had had at least one drink in the month prior to the 2009 study, as compared with 35% in 2008, but the implications are certain to be felt at the college level too. Teens who party in high school don't exactly stop when they're suddenly and gloriously independent.”

“It’s a vicious cycle of constant partying at colleges today because there’s no jobs out there, and if you don’t have a rick mommy and daddy, than who’s going to pay back those student loans,” quips U of O senior Jeff whose set to graduate next week but can’t find a summer job around here. In turn, Jeff said somewhat frankly that the only jobs in the area are “caregiver positions that’s code for wiping people’s butts. The job market is bleak, to say the least.”

Moreover, this issue of out of control drinking and drug use by both college students and others in society is also a huge problem overseas.

“The recession is becoming an increasingly common issue in the consultation room, month by month, as the long-term effects of the recession deepen, Dr Ronan Boland, Chair of the IMO GP Committee has told “Irish Medical Times,” recently. “Pointing out that there had been a significant increase in people presenting with stress, anxiety problems, drug and substance abuse, Dr Boland said: ‘Certainly, anecdotally, there is a resurgence in drug and alcohol abuse of a magnitude that I haven’t seen since the mid-1990s.’”

Animal House filmed at the University of Oregon because it was known as a party school

Back in 1977 when the film “Animal House” was looking for locations for a “funny spoof of college life,” William Beaty Boyd, then president of the University of Oregon in Eugene, promoted filming of Animal House and other Hollywood films at the university because “it had a reputation.”

In turn, Boyd even allowed the filmmakers to use his office as Dean Wormer's office in Animal House where students vomit on the dean’s desk after drinking too much in their frat house on campus, stated a local U of O history of the making of Animal House that also included several school landmarks.

For instance, local school history records note that the actual house depicted as the Delta House in Animal House was originally the Dr. A.W. Patterson House in Eugene. Also, the Animal House parade scene takes place in nearby Cottage Grove with U of O students serving as “drunken” extras.

U of O and hundreds of other universities rank high for student boozing and heavy drug use

“In 2009, 54 students per 1,000 at the University of Oregon were referred for disciplinary action because of alcohol violations, and 13 students per 1,000 were referred for drug use. The university enrolled 22,335 students in 2009. There were a total of 1,518 drug or alcohol referrals that year,” stated the Eugene Register Guard story.

Although the use of nonalcoholic drugs is strictly prohibited by the University of Oregon code, it still goes on, state locals.

Captain Ed. Rinne of the university’s Department of Public Safety told Eugene’s Register Guard newspaper that “he suspects the UO’s high ranking on drug and alcohol referrals has more to do with the department’s aggressive approach to combating violations than with an out-of-control student body.

“Statistics can be a little bit deceiving,” Rinne said. “You can take one campus police force that is very proactive and compare their numbers to a staff that isn’t. One department is going to have a lot higher statistics because they are being proactive about enforcement.”

According to the Federal Department of Education data, here’s the top schools liquor violations:

-- Northern Arizona University
-- University of Colorado at Boulder
-- University of Massachusetts Amherst
-- University of Oregon
-- University of California-Santa Barbara
-- University of Delaware
-- University of Wisconsin-Madison
-- University of Hawaii at Manoa
-- University of Kansas
-- West Virginia University

According to the Federal Department of Education data, here’s the top schools with drug violations:

-- University of Colorado at Boulder
-- University of California-Santa Barbara
-- University of Oregon
-- Stony Brook University
-- University at Buffalo
-- University of North Carolina at Charlotte
-- University of Kansas
-- Southern Illinois University Carbondale
-- George Washington University
-- Cornell University

Also, there’s an even darker side to heavy drinking and drug use on America’s college campuses with access to the Internet.

For example, one college web site featured the following:

Drunkchix.com - Drunk Girls! Drunk College Girls! College + Parties! Pictures And Videos.
Drunk teen girls drunk + at college party! party girls, drunk teens, college girls all getting drunk and +ed!
drunk party drunk girls girls college girls

While it’s known that college students like to party -- what’s was not revealed until the Department of Education statistics surfaced -- is experts saying how bad drug and alcohol use is; with the result showing students as being stoned or drunk watching porn on the Internet, that includes male college students watching female college students online who are also drunk.

Image source of the 1978 film “Animal House,” that was film in part at the University of Oregon: Wikipedia

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