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Prescription Drug-Use Rises Among Students

More college students are abusing prescription medications due to increasing pressure and competition.

More college students are abusing prescription medications due to increasing pressure and competition.

The days of keg stands and fraternity parties are long gone for many current college students. The stress and growing competition among students and entry-level professionals has led to increasing levels of prescription drug use. 

Background:

The Clinton Foundation conducted a study in January, which measured prescription drug use among college students. The study mentioned “In the last 20 years, the consumption of prescription stimulants increased from 5 million to 45 million” (Clinton Foundation).

The study concluded that college students nationwide have played a major role in this epidemic. The research found among college students between 1993 and 2005 the use of opioids (including Oxycontin, Vicodin and Percocent) increased 343 percent and use of stimulants (including Adderall and Vyvanse) increase 93 percent. 

Statistics on Chicago:

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services most recent extensive study on prescription drug use in Chicago was conducted in 2009. The study concluded the rates of emergency department visits for recreational use of prescriptions per 100,000 people in Chicago:

  •             100.5 Pain Relievers
  •             73.8 Opiates/Opioids
  •             70.0 Drugs that treat Anxiety or Insomnia
  •             26.3 Psychotherapeutic Medications (antidepressants) 

Chicago’s Problem:

Violence in Chicago has been increasing at exponential rates. This saturation of violence has caused police and other city officials to concentrate more heavily on gang activity and gun violence. This specific concentration has left an important and growing issue unanswered.

Many of the universities around Chicago offer student-help centers for drug abuse and addiction problems. Yet, none have noticed a prescription problem on their campuses.

However, these campuses are spread out throughout the entire city of Chicago. The public transportation system makes it easy for people to travel around the city. Though this is convenient, it also makes access to prescriptions easier. Students are no longer just limited to the pharmacies and “prescribed students” in their area.

When contacted, Loyola University, DePaul University, and the University of Chicago, each said they offer services to help students. However, they rarely see cases where students to come forward for prescription drug-use, especially when they aren’t being prescribed the medications.

Kristina Edwards, a pharmacist for the University of Chicago Hospitals and Clinics explains prescription drug use as an “epidemic.”

Popular prescription drugs have made our job more difficult,” explained Edwards. “We have to triple count by hand, initial, and double check with doctors every time we fill a prescription.”

Even with these extra steps from doctors and pharmacists, Edwards says students are still finding ways to get their hands on the drugs.

Stimulants like Adderall are meant for people with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD).  Edwards mentioned these drugs cause users to have a rush of energy and clarity, even for those without ADD and ADHD.

Edwards believes the universities and Chicago police have to take this issue more seriously, “Students don’t think it’s a big deal because the drugs come from a pharmacy, but that’s not true,” she said.

“There needs to be a push from the schools to inform students of the dangers when taking prescription drugs,” Edwards said.

This heat map displays the amount of police activity due to drug related incidents on or near the campuses of Loyola University (top of map), DePaul University (middle of map), and University of Chicago (bottom of map).

The universities are not completely innocent. This map shows the drug use reported by police in 2014 on the campuses of Loyola, DePaul and University of Chicago.

What Students Think:

Melissa Kamys is taking a year off from her education at DePaul because of the pressure she felt while enrolled.

“Everyone was so competitive, even in easy classes. I felt like I was in the Hunger Games every time I walked into a classroom,” Kamys said.

Kamys explained that prescriptions are really a big deal on college campuses. “People pass around Adderall like Tic-Tacs when final exams come around,” said Kamys.

This busy Walgreens on the corner of Wabash and Roosevelt is conveniently located  near public transportation.

This busy Walgreens on the corner of Wabash and Roosevelt is conveniently located near public transportation.

Kamys also said it’s really easy to get prescriptions in the city. “I know people who just wait outside of CVS and Walgreens and wait for people to pick up their pills. It happens all the time because no one is watching the people who leave the pharmacy.

“It’s scary how people just take what’s handed to them, and never really check to make sure they know what they’re getting.”

Mariah Martz graduated from DePaul University in 2013 and she is still searching for a job. Martz has had internships over the past year, but says the competition for entry-level positions in Chicago is ridiculous.

Martz says she has never taken a prescription that wasn’t prescribed to her, but says she knows many people who do.

“I feel like everyone takes Adderall and those kinds of pills to get an upper-hand on the competition. People who take it can study for hours and hours basically can beat the rest of us out who are trying our best without drugs,” Martz said.

Photo Exercise

Close-up of my dog Penny:

Penny enjoys soaking up the sun while spending time on the bed.

Penny enjoys soaking up the sun while spending time on the bed.

A medium shot of the dog park:

Many of the AMLI resident dogs enjoy the new dog park equipment.

Many of the AMLI resident dogs enjoy the new dog park equipment.

A wide shot of my dog Penny:

Penny runs through the obstacle course as she gets chased by her buddy Bruno.

Penny runs through the obstacle course as she gets chased by her buddy Bruno.

The edited picture:

Penny enjoys looking out the window as she rests on the bed.

Penny enjoys looking out the window as she rests on the bed. 

Original picture:

JOUR-503-5

Chicago Violence Heats Up With Temperatures

This weekend’s shootings led to at least 35 injuries and four fatalities, making it the most violent weekend in 2014.

Gun Control Making Safety Difficult:

Though criminologists say weather plays a major role in violence, Chicago Police spokesman Adam Collins declined to comment on whether the 80-degree temperatures were a factor this past weekend.

Monday morning, Collins made a statement saying the current gun laws have made it more difficult to reduce violence.

“While Chicago continues to see reductions in crime and violence, there’s obviously much more work to be done and we continue to be challenged by lax state and federal gun laws,” Collins said.

Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said the police department is doing everything in their power to prevent violence. “From our officers to our police strategies to the city’s strengthened investments in youth violence prevention to our close partnership with residents and community leaders, no one will rest until everyone in Chicago enjoys the same sense of safety.”

The Victims:

At 3:30 Friday afternoon Gakirah Barnes was killed and two others were injured during an attack in the West Woodlawn neighborhood. Shontell Brown, the mother of Barnes described the violence as “an ongoing war.”

“This is something that has become all too normal to everybody, and it needs to stop,” said Brown. She believes the community needs to unite in order to prevent further violence.

Friday at 10:45 p.m. Shannon Mack, 34, was pronounced dead on the 6800 block of South Crandon Avenue. An autoposy ruled his death a homicide, caused by multiple gunshot wounds.

Around 1:00 a.m. Sunday, Joshua Martinez was pronounced dead in the Gage Park neighborhood. Martinez was shot in the head and the back near the 3000 block of West 53rd Place.

At 2:40 Sunday morning, Corey Brownlee was shot in the chest in the Washington Park neighborhood. Brownlee was pronounced dead on the 6000 block of South Indiana Avenue.

Jasmine Martinez, a 24-year old mother of two, was shot in the head twice on Sunday morning. Martinez was driving with her fiancé and a friend on the West Side, when another car pulled up beside her and opened fire. Martinez’s fiancé and friend were not injured in the attack. Martinez is still fighting for her life at Stroger Hospital.

 The Locations where this weekend’s gun violence occurred:

  • 400 W. 126th St., Chicago, IL, 60628
  •  4500 S. Champlain Ave., Chicago, IL, 60653
  •  100 N. Pulaski Rd., Chicago, IL, 60624
  •  W North Ave & N. Washtenaw Ave., Chicago, IL, 60647
  •  5900 S. Halsted St., Chicago, IL, 60621
  •  4900 W. Hubbard St., Chicago, IL, 60644
  •  10000 S. Crandon Ave., Chicago, IL, 60617
  •  3800 W. Roosevelt Rd., Chicago, IL, 60624
  •  W. Grand Ave. & N. Kedzie Ave., Chicago, IL, 60651
  •  1500 W. 18th Pl., Chicago, IL, 60608
  •  5400 W. Diversey Ave., Chicago, IL, 60639
  •  6000 S. Indiana Ave., Chicago, IL, 60637
  •  3000 W. 53rd Pl., Chicago, IL, 60632
  •  5200 W. Wellington Ave., Chicago, IL, 60641
  •  W. 59th St. & S. Talman Ave., Chicago, IL, 60629
Interactive: Map of April 2014 Violent Crimes in Chicago (Click to explore)
This map displays the violent crimes committed in Chicago during the first 14 days in April. These violent crimes include assault, battery, and homicide charges. (This map excludes simple assault and simple domestic battery charges.)