Drug free report suggests decline in abuse this year

Following a spike in the use, distribution and possession of alcohol last winter and a rapid decrease in use during the spring months, NKU’s Drug Free School and Campus Safety Act Committee has released its second annual drug-free campus notification report.

The document, written by co-chairs Dean Waple and Alcohol and Drug counselor Siobhan Ryan-Perry, outlines NKU’s drug and alcohol policy, disciplinary actions to be taken if the policy is violated, legal implications, a description of health risks associated with the use of drugs and alcohol and a list of programs offered to students struggling with substance use.

“What it is is a campus-wide look at everything we do programmatically and policy-wise and what we can offer our faculty, staff and students across campus,” Waple said. “It’s a big mix of things trying to keep our campus healthy and safe.”

The Drug-free Schools and Campuses Act of 1989 and U.S. Department of Education requires that drug-free universities like NKU notify all students, faculty and staff annually of its policy and programs.

“About three years ago, myself and Siobhan Ryan-Perry, who’s the alcohol and drug counselor… found some areas we weren’t compliant in, and this was one of them,” Dean Waple said.

According to the notification report, NKU abides by all federal, state and local laws and prohibits the unlawful possession, use or distribution of alcohol and drugs on its property or as a part of its activities. The smoking ban, in effect since January 2014, is the most recent change to NKU’s drug and alcohol policy, according to Dean Waple.

According to Ryan-Perry, alcohol is the number one abused drug on campus.

“I’d say the biggest effect is on a student’s overall well-being because it’s a depressant so the lasting effects of alcohol can be up to three days later,” Ryan-Perry said. “It’s affecting your thought process, and you know, the brain doesn’t fully develop until about 25.”

She said marijuana and stimulants come in second and third for most abused drugs.

“The scary thing is that students don’t realize the effects of stimulants, but also the legal implications because that’s a felony drug charge,” Ryan-Perry said.

Waple said alcohol and drugs also contribute to violence on campus.

“I would say that the majority of our assaults, whether they’re physical or sexual. There is some type of substance use or abuse involved in that, and with vandalism as well,” Waple said. “They all go hand in hand.”

Any violation is subject to disciplinary action from both the University and authorities. Additionally, students must attend PREP, Personal Responsibility Education Programs, a confidential, discussion-based class taught by Ryan-Perry about the consequences of drinking.

There has a been a significant decrease in alcohol-related incidents in recent months, according to a conduct report released in April.

Waple said he has is happy to report only one minor incident involving alcohol occurred during the first week of classes.

“Of course we had great weather and lots of things to do on campus,” Waple said. “It’s really weird. We had a spike in November and December, you know, twenty-some. And then you look at spring break and into graduation. So I think students are making healthier choices.”

Ryan-Perry has also noticed a decrease in NKU’s alcohol-related incidents.

“I would say overall there’s a decrease because we’re putting more education out there,” Ryan-Perry said. “And luckily we haven’t had any deaths.”
“The hardest part is teaching college students that there is consequences, because they don’t see any. They’re invincible. If they’re not getting in any legal problems, they’re not dying, they haven’t had a friend die and they haven’t gotten liver disease yet, then they think they’re fine.”