UVM not immune to cocaine

Cocaine, often referred to as “coke,” “blow” and “going skiing,” can be found on college campuses across the country, and UVM and the Burlington area are not excluded.

“My mom didn’t want me to go to Indiana University because a friend of hers’ son picked up a cocaine habit there,” an anonymous male junior said. “Little did my mom know that Burlington and UVM have a much bigger drug community.”

Faculty and student feelings toward the drug remain split as many UVM students said they often use the drug.

“I’ve never had any bad experiences while on it. Just sunshine and happiness,” an anonymous female sophomore said. “I mean once when I was on it I made some bad decisions. But I’m not sure if it was the cocaine or alcohol.”

Licensed psychologist Kelly Thorne, an assistant director for UVM’s Counseling and Psychiatry Services recently sat down with the Cynic to discuss various  impacts that the drug can have.

Negative side effects can be “serious” and “long-lasting” and apart from its effect on the body, the consequences for being found using or distributing the drug are equally as serious, she said.

Such consequences can include jail time as well as serious counseling, UVM police services chief Liane Tuomey said.

Penalties include fines ranging from $2,000 to $250,000 depending on the amount of cocaine possessed. Prison terms can also vary in length from one year to up to 10 years, Tuomey said.

“I know people who are addicted and it led them down a bad path. Luckily I knew when to stop. I knew I was just doing it to try it, not to make it into a lifestyle,” an anonymous female junior said.

“I’ve always had an interest and been intrigued by coke. I’ll try anything once,” the male junior said. “I mean personally, I don’t have an addictive personality. A gram can last me more than a month.”

However, while the increasing rate of recent “illicit drug use” has been found to be higher among young adults, according to a 2012 national survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, students said they feel that cocaine use is rarely talked about “openly” at UVM.

“I think cocaine is a drug that’s not really openly talked about,”  the anonymous female junior said. “I mean people are always talking about smoking weed and drinking, but you don’t hear cocaine talked about that often. But under the surface, a lot of people are doing it.”

The anonymous male junior agreed, saying that cocaine is “continually growing” to become one of the “most popular” drugs at UVM, which he said possesses a large drug culture.

“I just think that many of the students are very open to doing drugs, we have a very big drug culture,” he said. “It ain’t cheap to go here, so many students have the money to do it.”

Other students said that constantly being exposed to the drug has led them to experiment with it, however they said that this has often led them to feel judged by friends.

“People who are weary of drugs judge me hardcore because it is considered a hardcore drug I guess,” the female sophomore said.

The male junior said he agreed.

“Some people only see people do cocaine in the media so seeing people actually do it in front of them is a bit jarring,” he said.

As the popularity of the drug is on the rise, more dealers seem to be coming to the Green Mountain state to sell their product.

Throughout the months of January and February, Burlington police conducted an investigation into residents who were believed to be selling crack cocaine in the Burlington area, according to the Feb. 13 press release.

The investigation led to the arrest of multiple local dealers.

“It’s considered a worse drug that’s clearly bad for you and will get you in more trouble than other things,” the female sophomore said.

Thorne and other faculty members expressed concern for students’ use of the addictive drug.

Effects can include euphoria, increased energy and talkativeness, however this can be paired with dangerous increases in heart rate and blood pressure, Thorne said.

Some students agreed saying that the drug makes them feel as though they have had “too much coffee,” while others expanded on their experiences.

“I feel like I really wanna dance, I’m really happy and I’m usually a lot happier because I got it for free,” the female sophomore said. “When I’m on it I really want to go out and do things, whatever that may end up being.”

Repeated use can lead to high tolerance as well as brain changes that can lead to addiction.

As the substance is used more frequently or in higher doses, individuals may experience increased irritability, restlessness, panic attacks, paranoia and potential psychosis, Thorne said.

“A reason that I don’t do it so much is because I know how much I like it and I also know how addictive it can be,” the anonymous sophomore said.

“In a way I regret trying it for the first time, because if I hadn’t done it I wouldn’t have realized how much I like it. But at the same time I like it and really enjoy it so im kinda glad that I tried it,” she said.

With the increase in the drugs popularity the UVM Substance Abuse Treatment Center has made increasing cocaine abstinence it’s primary goal, according to their website.

If you or someone you know is dealing with issues of drug abuse UVM offers free drug abuse treatment services through the Substance Abuse Treatment Center located at 1 South Prospect St. If seeking help, you can also call the center at (802) 656-8714 or 800-377-8714.

Contribution from Hannah Kearns and Taylor Feuss.