Battling Drug Use & Party Perception At ECU

Student drug use Is a battle that universities across the country have to contend with, and that is no different for East Carolina University. But school officials also say they have to contend with an image issue as well.

An ECU student who didn't want to reveal their identity spoke with WITN about just how much drug use goes on at East Carolina University.

The junior says, "As far as how readily they are available to people if you're just sitting in a class and looked left or right, you could pretty much find somebody that would have drugs or find some for you--it's not hard at all to find any drug you could possibly think of."

The student says that from what he's seen, marijuana, cocaine, and ecstasy are the preferred substances, and went on to say, "I know drugs are in almost any house you can think of around here--I mean all of our friends do drugs. It's just like everybody does it, they just kind of keep it on the hush, that's pretty much all it's about.

Lynn Roeder is the Dean of students at ECU. She acknowledges that drug use is going on and says that the school falls within the average drug use of other schools in the country.

She says the party school perception, more than anything, has been an enemy for her department -- with student surveys revealing interesting information.

Roeder says, "Some of the questions in there will ask students how much they think other students are using and they think it's a lot, and really it's the opposite, and so we've tried to do some social norming and other things, campaigns to try to educate them really about what is happening."

Glenn Buck is the chief clinical officer at Port Human Services, which specializes in rehabilitation. He says there is an uptick in students coming in for help.

Buck says, "It's hard to say an exact number. I think the ongoing trend would be that more and more younger folks are seeking treatment for different medication issues--I think that's probably a pattern or trend that's more nationwide, but also hitting us here in Eastern Carolina."

Buck says the drugs most associate with college students, cocaine and marijuana, are still popular. But it's the emergence in recent years of students starting as early as high school with prescription drug addictions that is beginning to alarm him.

Buck says, "The word you're hearing is medicine cabinet parties, so you're hearing youth get together and actually they go through the medicine cabinet to look for what is going to be the party item of the evening, so I think that's important for everybody to understand

Greenville Police Sgt. Joe Friday says that they tackle the student drug scene--which he describes as not a major problem--just like any other Greenville resident. Friday says, "In terms of tactics or investigations no, there's no different approach that we take with respect to students as opposed to the general population. We go where our leads and investigations take us, so we don't have any preconceived notions or ideas."

For Dean Roeder, who feels things have gotten better since she started working at ECU in 1993, it's all about providing outlets like the counseling center--to keep students educated enough to make the right decisions.

Roeder says, "A lot of students don't understand what they do today may follow them in the future especially later on getting employment, internships and things like that."

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