How the DEA is trying to curb drug use on college campuses
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is targeting college users with a new website focused on preventing and addressing college drug use.
"The college audience is a key audience for trying to work to reduce drug use and drug misuse," Sean Fearns, section chief for community outreach at DEA headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, told New Jersey 101.5.
CampusDrugPrevention.gov is a one-stop resource for professionals working to prevent drug use among college students including educators, student health centers and student affairs personnel. It also serves as a tool for college students and parents.
It offers drug statistics as well as information on how drugs affect the brain and body, what drugs are popular in different parts of the country, and penalties for drug crimes. It includes links to publications, research, and state and local prevention contacts and more. The site even teaches you how to have a conversation about drugs.
"Just because the resident assistant has to address drug abuse or the fear of drug abuse in the dormitory doesn't mean they necessarily know how to have that conversation," Fearns said.
The DEA believes law enforcement and treatment alone are not enough, he said. So it's important to give professionals that are on the ground the opportunity to have good, solid information, he said.
Fearns said the top three substances abused on college campuses are alcohol, prescription stimulants such as Adderall (which students commonly refer to as "study-aids") and marijuana.
He also said drug issues can be regionalized across the country, and college drug issues may be different than those in rural settings or inner cities. CampusDrugPrevention.gov discusses science is behind substance use and misuse — what substances do to the brain and body.
Colleges need to be aware of the changing drug trends as well, Fearns said. For example, he said, in New Jersey opioids are very prevalent in certain areas. There's a stretch from Camden to Atlantic City where the counties are reporting to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention a higher rate of overdose and overdose deaths.
The website also includes a "Help A Friend" resource to educate and prepare those who plan to talk to their friends about drug use concerns.
Fearns makes it very clear: "The DEA is focused on bringing to justice the biggest of the big and the baddest of the bad drug traffickers from all corners of the globe." But he said the agency needs help. That means every person, including professors, students, college administrators can be involved in preventing drug abuse, he said.