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Street Drugs

Key Issue:

Inhalant Abuse

According to Monitoring the Future, college students increased their use of street drugs during the 1990s. Although street drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, and heroin, are not new to college and university campuses, this increase is troubling. As street drugs have become increasingly purified, users are able to ingest the drugs in a variety of ways. Therefore, students who may be unwilling to inject drugs might try smoking or snorting heroin or cocaine, increasing the prevalence of both use and addiction.

Street drug use on campus threatens the health, safety, and academic performance of all students on campus. Due to their illicit nature, street drugs are especially dangerous to students and the campus community. Buyers of illegal drugs are at risk for arrest and violence, and may commit crimes for drug money. Those who sell these substances are by definition criminals, a segment of society college and university officials would be loathe to knowingly admit on campus. Marijuana, heroin, and cocaine may be contaminated or laced with unknown substances that can have lethal effects on users. Additional dangers exist when users mix street drugs with alcohol, as the dangerous effects of each drug are compounded. Finally, no user of street drugs is without the risk of addiction. Addiction to drugs compromises students’ ability to remain in school, and, if left untreated, their ability to contribute to society.


Cocaine, a strong central nervous system stimulant, is sometimes used by college students and is highly addictive.


While abused far less than marijuana on campus, heroin is a dangerous, addictive drug that may have disastrous consequences for users.


Following a decade of decline in the 1980s, the use of marijuana among all youth ñ including college students ñ rose in the 1990s. Prevention officials are particularly concerned because marijuana may act as a "gateway" drug, serving as an introduction to the drug scene and use of additional types of drugs.

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