EDITORIAL: U. must do more to address drug culture

Grant will put millions toward aid of addicts

As the opioid crisis becomes increasingly deadly, former Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) has made it his mission to fight back against the de-facto plague here in New Jersey. For Christie the crisis is one that hits home, as a friend of his was addicted to opioids and was ultimately killed by them in an overdose. Christie recently announced that New Jersey universities, including Rutgers, will receive $5 million to help combat the issue on college campuses. The grant was decided upon before Christie left office, and is meant to go towards funding education and rehabilitation with regard to drug addiction in young people — a group that badly needs it. In 2016, 40 percent of all treatment admissions reported to New Jersey’s Substance Abuse Monitoring System was comprised of people between the ages of 18 and 29. 

It is clear that the aforementioned issue is present in the community here in New Brunswick, and we would be naive to state that a drug culture does not pervade part of the University’s student body. And it may help us in the long run to examine our community’s hypocrisy in that sense. While students often tend to look down upon those who have succumbed to addictions to drugs like heroin, they themselves are in many cases dependent on a drug — just a more socially acceptable one. Granted, binge drinking alcohol a few nights a week may not be as detrimental to the mind and body as heroin or other opioids. In any case, this is why we need to change our social view of people with drug addictions. Part of the solution to the crisis is accepting drug addiction as a disease or condition, like Christie is urging people to do, and to encourage and aid addicts in getting the help they need. 

Christie was avidly against marijuana throughout his governorship despite the popular opinion that it is a mostly benign drug with multiple health benefits, including pain relief. This comes as paradoxical to some considering that many cases of people becoming addicted to opioids begin with doctors prescribing medication to alleviate pain. Marijuana is seen by many, on the other hand, as a safe and relatively non-addictive alternative to pain medication. But Christie wants to move away from drugs, which is a reasonable position to take, especially when discussing young people. Instead of doctors prescribing drugs for pain in the first place, the idea would be to mitigate all unnecessary usage of them. But this will not solve the whole issue. There are many pieces to this puzzle, and some of them lie within college culture. 

At orientations and other gatherings of the sort, the University advocates for the safe consumption of alcohol, which is obviously significantly more reasonable than simply telling students not to drink in the first place. The thing is, it seems that students pay no mind to these suggestions. Without batting an eye, students continue to take to the streets in droves on weekends in search of ways to alter their state of mind, legally and illegally. From an outside perspective, it is massively clear that there is an underlying dependency issue when it comes to college students in general. In looking to address the opioid crisis, we should also take note of this. 

Rutgers has a few good resources when it comes to the topic of drugs and alcohol, such as Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) and the Center for Alcohol Studies, and we are of the opinion that more should be done to truly reach the student body in guidance away from drug dependency. In other words, in order to begin working on the drug dependency issue among students, students need to have more drug-free options for fun. That likely sounds painful to many young and drug-dependent college students, and maybe even immature. But the truth is that purposely drinking to the point of losing consciousness every weekend and some week days is itself, immature. Shifting away from the culture of drugs and drug dependency in general as students can help us solve the maybe more pressing issue of opioid addiction.


The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 149th editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff. 

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