By: Tommy Eden, Attorney
In March of 2007 The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) came out with its report: Wasting the Best and the Brightest: Substance Abuse at America’s Colleges and Universities. This report revealed a public health crisis on college campuses and documented the harmful academic, health and social consequences that extend into the surrounding communities. The Report revealed the follows:
- Forty-nine percent (3.8 million) of full time college students binge drink and/or abuse prescription drugs. 1.8 million of these students (22.9 percent) meet the medical criteria for substance abuse and dependence, two and one half times the 8.5 percent of the general population who meet the same criteria.
- Only one-fifth of administrators at these institutions believe that the school bears primary responsibility to prevent alcohol and drug use among their students. The two most frequently mentioned barriers to implementing more effective substance use prevention policies and programs were that student substance abuse is seen as a normal rite of passage (37.8 percent) and limited financial resources/funding (34.3 percent).
Between 1993 and 2005 the proportion of students using illicit drugs increased:
- Daily use of marijuana more than doubled to 310,000;
- Use of cocaine, heroin, and other illegal drugs is up 52 percent to 636,000;
- Fraternity and sorority members are likelier than non-members to use marijuana (21 percent vs. 16 percent) or cocaine (3 percent vs. 1.5 percent);
- College students who fear the social stigma attached to substance abuse (37 percent) would not seek help. Only 6 percent of students who meet the medical criteria for alcohol or drug abuse dependence seek help; and
- 78 percent of college students who use illicit drugs have sexual intercourse compared to 44 percent of those who never use drugs. The full report can be found under “publications” at http://www.casacolumbia.org/
One Auburn University Social Fraternity House Corporation, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, has decided to set their fraternity apart and adopted a “Drug Free Fraternity Policy,” for which their national president will visit and honor them over the Homecoming weekend. The Alabama Alpha Mu Chapter of SAE at Auburn University is the first SAE Chapter in the nation to adopt such a policy of drug testing. The policy is not unlike a drug free workplace policy with a same statement of purpose, collection and testing safeguards, Medical Review Officer interview to verify a positive test, awareness training, how to locate help if a pledge or member has a problem, confidentially in reporting and clear consequences for a violation.
Common Sense Counsel: If you have a social fraternity or sorority leadership role, or in college administration, my counsel is to read the full report and consider this course of action as a risk management strategy. Do not let your best and brightest get wasted.
Tommy Eden is a Lee County native, an attorney with the local office of Constangy, Brooks & Smith, LLP and a member of the ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law and serves on the Board of Directors for the East Alabama SHRM Chapter. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 334-246-2901. Blog at www.alabamaatwork.com