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VII Users of Approved Drugs PDF Print E-mail
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Books - Students and Drugs
Written by Richard Blum   

In this chapter we focus on the users of particular drugs, the approved medical and social ones, to identify differences among students using each drug intensively compared with those using it less intensively. Users will also be contrasted with non-users. Comparisons will be made of the same characteristics which have been shown in preceding chapters to be linked to drug experience. Additional descriptive data derived from individual histories of drug use will also be presented.

The comparison in this chapter between less and more intensive users of a drug abandons the criterion of "experience" defined as any use over a lifetime in favor of an intensity measure showing how much use over a lifetime. The intensity measure is derived from the individual's lifetime drug history, or profile, which indicates for each drug or class of drugs how much a student has used the drug over each year of his life. The how-much-each-year replies are coded as "none," "intermittent," "occasional," "regular," or "considerable." These codes were defined for each drug on the basis of pretest findings as to the distribution of replies. For example, "considerable" alcohol use means four drinks each day on most days for six months or more during the year; "considerable" hallucinogen use is daily use. The scoring procedure leads to higher scores either if the student has used the drug a lot during a given year or if he has used it over any number of years. The highest scores are obtained if someone has used a drug frequently each year over many years. The maximum score of 56 for any one drug profile or history would represent "considerable" use each year of life beginning with age six and continuing through age twenty-eight. (Obviously, since most students in the study were not twenty-eight and most had used drugs rather less intensively than the maximum, we expected no maximum scores.) Two students beginning drug use at the same age and continuing to the same degree could receive different intensity scores if one student were older than the other. This distortion source has been controlled by the use of z scores based on mean drug-use scores, so that persons whose z score for any drug falls above the mid-point are classified as intensive or high users.

Once a set of intensity scores has been obtained for each-sample member on each drug, the next step is to order the distribution of all scores on one drug, to identify the median, and to classify all persons above the median as intensive or high drug users and all persons with scores below the median as less intensive drug users. Since the median often falls in a category containing many subjects, the median category itself becomes classified as either high or low, depending upon whether the theoretical median falls in the lower or upper half of the actual median-frequency category. Keep in mind that our classification of intensity is divided into low and high users and excludes those who have never taken the drug. This means low-intensity users are people with at least one-time use.

In presenting the relationship of student characteristics to the patterns of use of a drug, we have proceeded in the discussion by three routes. The first has been to present a brief review of the trends differentiating users and non-users as reported in earlier chapters. The second has been to report trend differences identified in comparisons of high- and low-intensity users. The third has been to test some of those differences by means of the Kolmagorov-Smirnov Test, a statistic which rests upon cumulative score differences. When we describe "significant" differences, we refer to a difference at the P = .05 level by this test. The limitations of such a test are several. One is that it does not discriminate or identify the direction of differences—a flaw remedied by simply observing the distribution. The second limitation is that it performs best when there is a range of scores within the limits of 4 to 10. Since only one fifth of our variables are coded within that range, the test must be considered as having been applied only to a (probably representative) sample of our findings. Recognize that there is nothing absolute in these tests of significance; for example, given the vast differences in N for various non-user, high-user, and low-user groups, small differences can emerge as either significant or nonsignificant. Similarly, consistent differences are to be taken as meaningful even if significance at .05 is not achieved. Consider, too, that out of every hundred tests run, five must be expected by chance to achieve significance at the .05 level. In reading each section in this and the following chapter, keep in mind that all students are considered under each drug—that is, the total student sample is examined in terms of characteristics associated first with use and nonuse of tobacco and then the smaller sample of users are compared for intensive vs. less intensive use. For brevity we have not repeated the comparison group's classification each time a trend is noted. For example, when we write, "More tobacco users are found among studentswho are older," the implicit comparison group for "older" is "younger"—that is, more than 75 per cent of all students over age twenty-one smoke, whereas less than 75 per cent of all students under age twenty-one smoke, and so on.

Some drugs, like the sedatives, are employed by people who are not so readily discriminated by the variables upon which this study has focused; thus, because we have not elucidated their special features (assuming they have some associated with taking prescription sedatives), these people more often appear to be distributed throughout the student population. As we examine trends and are aware that drug use is simultaneously intercorrelated overall, inter-correlated on particular factors, and independent of any intercorrelations we have seen fit to try, it is apparent that each person and each group of drug users present a slightly different picture, some aspects of which may simply be chance variations. On the other hand, there is another phenomenon which tends to unify the data; it is the concept of "scaling" in the Guttman sense of predictability of step sequences, or even of a stochastic process. We have met it before in the normal-population pilot study (Chapter Eleven of Drugs I) when we found that the greater the use of unusual drugs, the more likelihood there is of the use of ordinary ones. We shall see this again in the next chapter when we find that opiate users are highest of all in their experience with usual and unusual—but more "usual" than opiates—drugs. What is implied is a pyramid of the sort that the chap sitting on the top using the most unusual class of drugs is likely to have tried everything else along the way.

Something else which happens to the data is that as the size of the groups (classifications) under consideration grows larger or smaller, then the group itself is likely to become more or less like the population as a whole. For example, since alcohol and tobacco users comprise most of the student population, it is inevitable that they demonstrate the dominant (normal, modal) features of that population. On the other hand, alcohol abstainers and LSD users are rare and, as deviants, are likely to be different in terms of their characteristics vis-à-vis the total sample. Such an expectation, of course, underlies the philosophy of this sort of study. Also, as groups get smaller, it becomes more difficult to get power out of the statistics we employ for testing differences. This means that, ordinarily, when a small gi'oup of intensive users—let us say of opiates—are compared with a small group of less intensive users, one cannot expect much in the way of statistical significance. Another problem arises from the method employed in the survey which emphasizes differences among students classified by drug experience or intensity but does not analyze within-group differences. Thus, we have only occasional hints about the interesting clinical or social subgroups which may lie within a classification of users—for example, the high yield of the "craving" item among illicit-opiate users, the curious emphasis on strength and prowess among intensive special-substance users, the athletes, who are conservatives among intensive drinkers, or the odd lack of influence of an alcoholic parent on student drug behavior. Our methods, geared to the gross, deny us the pleasure of subgroup identification or the postulation of psychodynamics following such identifications.


Tobacco. Reviewing trend data regarding differences between users and non-users (see Chapters Four and Five), we find that proportionately more tobacco users than non-users are found among students who are older, upperclassmen, arts-humanities or social-science majors, come from wealthier and less settled (more mobile) families, are without current religious affiliation or deep religious interests, differ from their father's or mother's religion (or from both), are in disagreement with their parents on major issues, and are not athletic participants but are political participants. Users are also more extreme in either seeking or in not seeking new experiences, are more often not interested in academic-scholastic-career-related activities, more often are left, politically involved, members of many organizations, are undergoing political change to the left, and differ with fathers and mothers on politics. Proportionately more tobacco smokers will be found among students who perceive their parents as quick to medicate, who recall advantages in childhood illness, and who feel their parents worried less than most about their early health. Regarding school, proportionately more smokers are found among students who are dissatisfied with their courses, their teachers, and the school itself, have taken recent incompletes, have dropped out of school in the past for other than health reasons and are now thinking of dropping-out, see studies as unrelated to future life or career, are not optimistic about getting to do what they want, and find life as it is either worse or totally different from what they have expected. Proportionately more" smokers than nonsmokers will be found among students with lower grade-point averages. They will also more often be found, proportionately, among students who consider as the most dangerous groups in the United States today those holding real power (the Establishment), middle-of-the-roaders, and right wingers. Finally, more smokers than nonsmokers occur, proportionately, among students who see benefits from or facilitating reasons for the use of illicit drugs.

Reviewing correlated use of minor drugs, we find that the trends suggest a greater prevalence of tobacco users among students who drink coffee often and use mild painkillers (aspirin, and such), mild tranquilizers (Comp5z, and so forth), and over-the-counter stay-awakes. With reference to drug functions, more smokers are among those who use (compared with those who do not use) drugs to build courage, to explore self, to seek religious experience, to satisfy cravings, to relieve boredom, to combat depression, to relieve tension, to facilitate good moods, to counteract anger, to enhance their own friendliness, to induce appetite changes, to combat feelings of dullness, to improve sexuality, to reduce sexuality, to combat panic, and to use in suicide attempts. Tobacco smokers are also more prevalent among those who use drugs to enhance learning, to improve physical performance, to prepare for stress, and to exclude stimuli.

It is important to keep in mind that the foregoing trend descriptions are, for the most part, descriptions of percentage-point differences of a very small order. These statements about trends by no means imply that all smokers are to be so characterized while all nonsmokers are not. To the contrary, since most students have tried tobacco, the overriding observation is of diversity within the characteristics of users and the very limited utility of predicting who is a smoker simply on the basis of any one of the characteristics set forth above.

We now turn to the comparison of intensive smokers to less intensive smokers. There are differences by school: School IV has the greatest proportion of high-intensity users (46 per cent of its students are high-intensity users whereas 34 per cent are low), and School I has the highest proportion of low-intensity users (46 per cent are low-intensity, only 30 per cent high-intensity). High-intensity smokers are more often males, older students, upperclassmen, and social-scienee or arts-humanities majors, come from wealthier families, have parents living, are from unsettled families, and are without religious affiliation, while low-intensity users are more often Protestant or Catholic with a deep religious interest that they share with their parents, who have the same religion. Intensive tobacco use is found more often among those uninterested in athletics or in religious participation; less intensive use is more often found among those for whom athletics is extremely important. Conversely, political participation is more important for intensive smokers than for less intensive ones. Activities such as seeking new experiences are important to intensive smokers, less so to nonintensive ones. The highest proportion of intensive smokers is found among students considering themselves left-of-center politically; the highest proportion of nonintensive smokers is among those having no political preferences. Similarly, political involvement and intensive use are linked, as are noninvolvement and low use. Among students who find their political ideologies shifting, intensive smoking is most often found among those moving left; low tobacco use among those moving right. Political disagreement with father and mother is also linked to more intensive smoking. Intensive smokers more often see their parents as little worried about their present health. Dissatisfaction with teachers and with school as a whole more often characterizes intensive users, who also have more recent incompletes, more often dropped out of school, and are planning to drop out. As for the relationship between studies and life desires, intensive smokers more often occur, proportionately, among students seeing school related to career, while—a deviation from ordinary trends—less intensive smokers more often occur among those finding school unrelated to desires for living. Intensive smokers are more often among the pessimists about getting to do what they would like in life and among those who intend to change the world; less intensive users are more often among those uncertain about trying to change it. Even so, intensive users are also more often pessimistic about seeing changes brought about and more often are students who find life worse than they have expected. Intensive smokers, more often than less intensive ones, are not members of any official organizations. The intensive smokers are among those seeing the Establishment as a menace; less intensive users more often are found among those considering middle-grounders dangerous to the country. Intensive smokers have used other drugs for a greater variety of reasons and think in terms of the benefits of illicit drugs, so that the valence of their guiding principles contains positive elements.

Applying the Kolmagorov-Smirnov test to those variables amenable to it, we find significant differences on eight out of twenty-eight tests and, in comparing users to non-users, significance on an additional eight variables. Of the trends noted, significance is inferred for differences between intensive and less intensive smokers in age, school year, religious affiliation, religious interest, participation in athletics and religion, organizational membership, and valence of principles guiding drug use. For user/non-user differences, significance is inferred for the variables of political participation, seeking new experiences, political involvement, shifting political ideology, current political affiliation, advantages in childhood illness, school satisfaction, and realism of life expectations. Applied to minor-drug-use habits, significant differences between intensive and less intensive smokers emerge for coffee drinking and the use of stay-awakes.

In reviewing the Kolmagorov-Smimov results, one finds only one instance' in which a variable is shown to yield a significant difference between users and non-users in which a trend in the same direction was not also present between intensive and less intensive smokers, even though significance was not achieved. Conversely, when significant differences between intensive and less intensive smokers obtained, there was in each case a trend in the same direction between users and non-users even if it was not significant. What is implied is that relationships are continuous, so that heavy users are at one extreme and non-users are at the other with the less intensive users in the center. We shall find this kind of a distribution characterizing most drugs —but not sedatives—on almost every variable.

With reference to salient points in the history of use, we find regarding associated-drug use that 98 per cent of the smokers drink alcohol, 42 per cent of these beginning with alcohol, 39 per cent with tobacco, and the remainder beginning use of both about the same time. Among smokers, 26 per cent have taken sedatives, 24 per cent have used amphetamines, 21 per cent tranquilizers, 23 per cent marijuana, 7 per cent special substances, 6 per cent hallucinogens, and about 2 per cent opiates. In almost all cases, alcohol or tobacco-preceded the use of the other drugs. Comparing intensive users with less intensive users, one finds the average age for beginning use for low users is sixteen and for high-intensity users fifteen. Regarding the source of the drug for initial use, there are no important differences between the high and low groups. As for parental smoking habits, no strong differences emerge, although slightly more (6 per cent) parents of heavy smokers (84 per cent of these parent smokers) also smoke. It is to be noted, as much other research has shown, that the parents of nonsmokers are less likely to smoke, although, interestingly enough, 65 per cent of the parents of non-smokers have at one time smoked. In regard to student intentions either to begin or to continue smoking, we find that almost none of the 25 per cent of the population who are nonsmokers intend to start. Two thirds of the low-intensity group do not expect to use tobacco again, whereas only one fifth of the intense smokers intend not to smoke in the future. Clearly, among students only a history of low intensity of use in the past is associated with the expectation not to smoke in the future.

Alcohol. A review of characteristics shows trends suggesting that proportionately more students have alcohol experience among those who are older, are upperclassmen, come from wealthy families, have no religious affiliation or deep interest in religion, differ from their mother's religion, do not participate in religious activities, have a great interest in seeking now experience, are not interested in furthering their academic future careers, are politically active, differ politically with their fathers and mothers and on many other major issues, recall advantages in childhood illness, report their parents were less than ordinarily worried about childhood illness, are dissatisfied with their school, took incompletes in school last year, have dropped out of school previously and are thinking of dropping out, are pessimistic about getting to do what they want in life, are uncertain about whether desirable world changes can be brought about, find life different or worse than they expected, and see benefits or facilitating features for the use of illicit-exotic drugs.

Reviewing correlated minor-drug use, one finds drinkers are more prevalent among those who drink coffee often, drink tea, and use stay-awakes. Regarding drug functions (goals, effects of drugs), one finds more drinkers among those who use drugs for courage, for self-exploration, for a religious experience, to satisfy cravings, to re-Revd" boredom, to combat depression, to relieve tension, to facilitate moods, to enhance their own friendliness, to alter appetite, to combat feelings of dullness, to improve sexual appetites, or to reduce sexual desires, and to combat panic; there are also more drinkers among those who have used drugs to attempt suicide, to enhance intelligence, to prepare for stress, and to combat stimuli.

Using the Kolmagorov-Smirnov Test, we find seven out of twenty-eight of the foregoing trends in characteristics to discriminate between users and non-users beyond the .05 level, and another three of the associated comparisons (tea, coffee, and so on) out of six achieve significance in comparing users and non-users. If we take these tests as a sample of significance, one would estimate that about one quarter of all trends identified as existing are "real" in the sense of being valid inferences not likely to be chance variations. However, if one examines the consistency with which these trends appear—not only in Chapters Four and Five but in this and the next chapter as well—then another feature to be considered in estimating probabilities is the likelihood of the same trend's appearing repeatedly, even if on each occasion or on some occasions it does not achieve independent significance. What we are proposing is that trends which appear repeatedly in the data are not to be ignored whether or not significance at the .05 level is achieved in any one comparison of drug users vs. non-users or of intensive users vs. less intensive users.2

On the other hand, and equally important, even the occurrence of significant differences and the prevalence of consistent trends should not lead to overlooking the generally small magnitude of the differences between the various user groups. With alcohol, for example—as with tobacco—most students are users, which means that there will be considerable diversity within the user group. The total abstainers, described in Chapter Two, are the unusual people, and it is no surprise that theirs are unusual characteristics as defined by the characteristics of the student population as a whole.

Within the large sample constituting alcohol drinkers, the two subgroups of drinkers, the intensive and less intensive ones, have been compared. On the Kolmagorov-Smimov Test, twelves differences out of twenty-eight are significant on the descriptive variables as are three of six associated-drug-use items. When we look at trends, we see the following. Intensive drinking varies by school. In School IV, our heavy illicit-drug-use school, 65 per cent of its drinkers are intensive drinkers, whereas in School II, the Catholic university, only 43 per cent are intensive drinkers. Other characteristics associated, in trend data, with intensive drinking are being male, older, and an upperclassman, as well as having a social-science major; less intensive drinkers are more concentrated in the biological sciences, have a wealthy family, housing mobility, no religion or are Jewish (theirs is usually the long-term, safe-drinking pattern), are without religious interests (those with deep interests have the highest concentration of less intensive users), and differ with father and mother on religion. Intensive drinkers are also proportionately more often found among those who are either very much interested or totally uninterested in participating in athletics and are uninterested in participating in religion but interested in political participation, whereas less intensive drinkers are more often politically uninterested or find participation important but not vital and stress new experiences as exceedingly important. Intensive drinkers are more often politically very conservative or left-of-center; low-rate drinkers are more highly concentrated among independent-conservatives and Democrats. Intensive drinking and political activity are linked; less intensive drinking and little activity are linked; intensive drinking and political disagreement with both parents are also linked. Regarding other drugs, intensive drinking is associated with the use of strong painkillers and mild stimulants, with offering a greater variety of reasons for the use of other drugs, and with having positive valences for guiding principles for illicit-drug use. Intensive drinkers more often recall advantages to sickness in childhood than do less intensive drinkers and say their parents were little worried about their childhood health. In school, characteristics linked to intensive drinkers more than to less intensive ones include being dissatisfied with courses, teachers, and school as a whole, having recent incompletes, having dropped out, and thinking of dropping out. More intensive users are more often in the group finding studies unrelated to the way they want to live. Pessimism about doing what they want to do in life and about bringing about world change, as well as finding life worse than expected also characterize the intensive drinkers more than the less intensive ones, as does the view that the Establishment, middle-of-theroaders, and the right wing are a menace to the nation. Less intensive drinkers more often see the left wing or criminals as such as a menace. Intensive drinkers report fewer major issues on which their whole family is in agreement; there are also more issues on which the student stands in opposition to the position both parents have taken together. Teetotallers report the greatest amount of family homogeneity on major issues of value and belief of any student group classified by drug use. On grade points both intensive and less intensive drinkers average 2.8, whereas the nondrinkers average 3.5.

Testing twenty-eight of the foregoing variables in the Kolmagorov-Smirnov Test, one finds, as noted earlier, significance on twelve of them and, as with tobacco, in the same directions as in the comparison of users and non-users. Significant variables are age, school year, religious affiliation, interest and participation, political participation and involvement, desire for new experiences, childhood-sickness advantages, satisfaction with school, and positive valences for illicit-drug use. Intensive drinkers drink significantly more coffee than less heavy drinkers, use more stay-awakes, and drink more chocolate.

Regarding drug histories and correlated-drug use, one finds that 79 per cent of the drinkers have smoked tobacco, 26 per cent have used sedatives, 23 per cent amphetamines, 20 per cent marijuana, 20 per cent tranquilizers, 6 per cent special substances, 5 per cent hallucinogens, and about 1 per cent opiates. As noted earlier, alcohol is most often the first drug used by any student. Students asked whether either parent were alcoholic report as follows: 5 per cent say "yes," 33 of these being among the 600 intensive users and 30 among the 620 less intensive users. It is possible that if we had clinically selected a "drinking-problems" group, something more interesting would have emerged. Intensive users report that they began drinking at an average age of fourteen; light drinkers at age seventeen. For the intensive-use group, parents are more often the first source of alcohol (59 per cent vs. 40 per cent) ; for a different subgroup, older friends are somewhat more often the source for intensive contrasted to light drinkers (15 per cent vs. 10 per cent). Nearly all the parents are drinkers; there is a small difference showing a few more parents of the intensive users in the nondrinking group (8 per cent vs. 4 per cent). One is reminded of other research (Cisin and Cahalan, 19,66) suggesting two kinds of heavy drinkers: those from middle-class origins who drink safely and whose parents—our inference—also drink; those from Fundamentalist origins whose parents—again our inference—do not drink and whose offspring when they drink get in trouble with alcohol. With reference to drinking plans, more of the intensive users will continue to drink (97 per cent) than lighter users (90 per cent). Interestingly enough, over one third of the (7 per cent) nondrinkers intend to begin. Considering tobacco intentions, it is evident that drinking is more universal than smoking, and while drinking will expand among the few teetotallers on campus, smoking will not.

Sedatives. When we review experience with sedatives in relationship to individual characteristics, we find that sedative users are more prevalent among students who are upperclassmen, are majors in general studies or arts and humanities, come from wealthy families, come from unsettled families, have no religious affiliations or are Jewish, differ from their mother or both parents in religion, do not participate in athletics or religious activities, seek new experiences, are not interested in activities relevant to scholarship or future careers, are very conservative politically or New Left, are members of several organizations, are politically active, are not in political agreement with their parents, disagree with them on other major issues, see their parents as having been quick to medicate them when they were children, and recall advantages in childhood ills. Sedative users arc more dissatisfied with their school course work, their teachers, and their school, have taken incompletes recently, have dropped out of school in the past for other than health reasons, are thinking about dropping-out, are pessimistic about doing what they want to in life, are uncertain whether they want to change things in the world, are optimistic about world changes being brought about, and see benefits and facilitating reasons for illicit-drug use.

A review of correlated minor-drug habits shows a greater prevalence of sedative users among those who drink coffee—as opposed to noncoffee drinkers—among those who drink tea and cola drinks, and among those who take stay-awakes and use mild painkillers. In regard to drug functions, the suicide variable stands out among sedative users; nine out of thirteen (70 per cent) students admitting to suicide attempts via ingestion are sedative users.

Only a minority or 24 per cent of the students have used sedatives. Insofar as trend differences are noted, these individuals are like the majority of all students, which means they are also like drinkers and smokers. One does see emerging a subgroup of sedative users who are politically conservative, do not emphasize differences with their parents, and are reasonably optimistic about the world. In these characteristics they remind one of the total-abstainer sample of Chapter Three. In this independence of sedative users from the trends found in other drug use, we see operating the independent prescription-druguse factor identified in Chapter Six. Since none of the rates of prevalence of characteristics reviewed for differences emerges as strong—usually a matter of a few percentage points (see Chapter Four for those) —the major conclusion must be that most sedative users, except for the interesting clinical groups (would-be suicides, those who attempt to reduce panic, and so on) identified by drug functions, are not distinguished from the total student group on the basis of special features. On only one variable, religious affiliation, is significance achieved.

Looking over differences among sedative users for the high-and low-intensity classification, one finds little difference by school except that School IV has more of the less intensive users. On individual characteristics the intensive users more often than low users are not distinguished by a single difference that achieves significance in the Kolmagorov-Smirnov Test on twenty-eight variables. While some of the trends found in the user—non-user comparison are discernible, they are slight enough not to be worthy of repetition. On the other hand, differences in mild-drug habits are not only discernible but significant; intensive users do use more stay-awakes and more mild painkillers than do non-users. For the record let it be noted that intensive users have an average grade point of 2.9 while less intensive ones have an average 2.8.

In associated-drug histories, we find that 97 per cent have taken alcohol, 82 per cent have smoked tobacco, 31 per cent have used tranquilizers, 29 per cent amphetamines, 25 per cent marijuana, 9 per cent special substances, 8 per cent hallucinogens, and 4 per cent illicit opiates. The initial average age for beginning use is eighteen for the light users, sixteen for the heavy ones. Initial sources of the drug differ only slightly, with the intensive users more often (24 per cent introduced by their parents as compared with 18 per cent among less intensive users. About half of the parents of the students have used sedatives, but more of the parents (69 per cent) in the intensive-user group have used them as compared with parents of the less intensive group (57 per cent) or non-user group (38 per cent). Some students (10 per cent) not yet experienced with sedatives expect to take them; one third are not sure. Among intensive users 71 per cent intend to continue sedatives; among less intensive users only 37 per cent do.

Tranquilizers. Those who have used tranquilizers, upon review, are more prevalent proportionately among students who are older, are upperclassmen, are arts and humanities majors, come from wealthy families, have one or both parents dead, are from unsettled-mobile families, are without religious affiliation or interest and differ from their fathers' and mothers' religion, do not participate in athletics or religion, do not participate in politics, do seek new experiences, are politically left of center, are organization members, view parents as having been quick to medicate, recall advantages in childhood sickness, are dissatisfied with school or are contemplating dropping out, are pessimistic about doing what they hope to do in life, and see benefits and facilitating reasons in illicit-drug use.

Reviewing associated mild-drug use, we find tranquilizer users more prevalent among those who drink tea, take stay-awakes, and use the mild analgesics. Regarding drug functions, tranquilizer users are more prevalent among those who do, rather than do not, use drugs to gain courage, to explore themselves, to have religious experiences, to satisfy strong cravings, to combat depression, to relieve tension, to counteract anger, to alter appetite, to seek to feel strong, to combat feelings of dullness, to improve sexual appetite, to reduce sexual desire, to combat panic, to try to kill themselves via ingestion, to enhance intelligence, to prepare for stress, and to shut out stimuli.

Only a minority of students have used tranquilizers, 19 per cent. The trends discernible in the comparison of characteristics of users and non-users are rarely dramatic and usually constitute percentage-point spreads of small magnitude. Nevertheless, when tested on twenty-eight variables, eleven achieve significance. These are on age, major field of study, religious affiliation, interest and participation, political affiliation, childhood-sickness advantages, organizational membership, pessimism about life as they find it, school satisfaction, and perception of benefits in illicit drugs.

When we begin to compare intensive tranquilizer users with less intensive ones, the same variables identified as showing trend differences and as achieving significant differences are observed. However, when tested not one of the twenty-eight is significant at the .05 level. We do find that intensive users use significantly more mild painkillers as well—this significant beyond .05. When grade points are compared, both intensive and less intensive users have an average of 3.0, compared with an average 2.8 for non-users. Because there are so few significant differences in student characteristics, we shall refrain from repeating the catalogue of variables for which trend differences may be observable. Such that occur are all in the by-now-familiar direction.

With reference to associated-drug histories, 96 per cent of tranquilizer users have used alcohol, 84 per cent tobacco, 40 per cent sedatives, 36 per cent amphetamines, 26 per cent marijuana, 12 per cent special substances, 12 per cent hallucinogens, and about 4 per cent illicit opiates. Among those who have used both tranquilizers and sedatives, tranquilizer use precedes the latter at a rate of over 4 to 1. Among those who have used both amphetamines and tranquilizers, amphetamine use precedes the latter at a rate of 11/2 to 1. Among intensive users of tranquilizers, it is somewhat more common to have an alcoholic parent than among less intensive users. As for age of onset of use, it averages eighteen for less intensive users and sixteen for intensive ones.

For intensive users a physician is much more often the initial drug source (75 per cent) than for less intensive users (46 per cent). Parents are more often the initial source for lesser users (23 per cent vs. 16 per cent). Although 40 per cent of the parents in the total sample reportedly have used tranquilizers, the distribution shows fewest tranquilizer-using parents in the non-user student group (38 per cent) compared with less intensive users (55 per cent) and intensive users (68 per cent). Expectations for future tranquilizer use show the same shifts: among non-users 30 per cent are uncertain and 17 per cent expect to begin; among less intensive users 33 per cent expect to continue and among intensive users 67 per cent do.

Amphetamines. We consider the various amphetamine compounds under the approved drugs even though it is well known that much of this use is informal or frankly illicit. Our only measure of the extent of informal-illicit use comes from data on initial sources of the drug. Counting physicians and parents as "sanctioned" sources, friends as informal or illicit sources, we find that 55 per cent of our sample of users were first supplied through informal or illicit sources. Even so, it is our impression that most college use—under the laws prevailing through 1968—was not initiated through buying and selling in such a fashion as to be illegal under dangerous-drug codes but simply resulted from friendly give-and-take as occurs among students with many things, whether books, clothes, or what-have-you.

A review of the different rates of prevalence for characteristics among students classified as users or non-users of amphetamines indicates that higher prevalence occurs among students who are older, are upperclassmen, are arts, humanities, and biology majors, come from wealthier families, have one or both parents dead, are from unsettled families, are either without religious affiliation or are Jewish, are without interest in religion, have a religion different from their father's and their mother's, find athletics unimportant, do not participate in religion or in politics, seek new experience, find academic-career activities unimportant, are politically left wing and actively involved in politics, are undergoing a political change to the left, differ politically from their fathers and mothers, are not in agreement with their families on issues. Amphetamine users are also more often found, in proportion, among students who perceive their parents as having been reluctant to give drugs—or in other cases quick to do so—who. found childhood illness satisfying, see parents as having been little concerned over their health as children, and are dissatisfied with their school courses, their teachers, and the school as a whole. Furthermore, amphetamine experience is more prevalent among those students who have recently taken incompletes, have dropped out of school earlier, are thinking of dropping-out, see little relationship between school and life or career goals, are pessimistic about doing what they want to do in life and about bringing on world changes, and disappointed in having found life worse than expected. Prevalence of amphetamine experience is greater among students who view as nationally dangerous the Establishment, other presently powerful cliques, or middle-ofthe-roaders, and who are also among those students seeing good reasons to take illicit-exotic drugs.

Reviewing minor drugs, we find a greater prevalence of amphetamine users among those who drink coffee often, drink tea, and take stay-awakes. Regarding drug functions, there is a greater prevalence of users among those who take drugs to gain courage, to explore themselves, to have religious experiences, to satisfy strong cravings, to relieve boredom, to combat depression, to relieve nervousness, to facilitate moods, to combat anger, to facilitate friendliness, to alter appetite, to seek to feel stronger, to combat feelings of dullness, to improve sexual appetite, to reduce sexual desire, to combat panic, to attempt suicide, to enhance intelligence, to improve performance, to prepare for stress, and to exclude stimuli.

Only a minority of students (about 21 per cent) have taken amphetamines. Those who have do differ rather markedly from others in terms of proportionate distributions on many of the variables considered. Compared with users of other approved drugs, the amphetamine-using students appear more pervasively different from their peers. Testing by the Kolmagorov-Smirnov procedure, we find significant differences achieved on fourteen out of twenty-eight variables. These are age, year in school, major subject, family income, family mobility, religious affiliation, interest and participation, desire for new experiences, political involvement and affiliation, satisfaction with courses and school, and benefits perceived in illicit drugs. Amphetamine users also differ significantly from others in drinking more coffee and in using more stay-awakes. In respect to several characteristics not previously discussed, we find the amphetamine users to come from families with less homogeneity on family issues; in addition, these students perceive themselves more at odds with the combined parental stance on a variety of issues more than non-users. Grade points for users (both intensive and less intensive) average 2.8 and for non-users 2.6.

Within the amphetamine-user group, no significant differences emerge between intensive and less intensive users in the KolmagorovSmimov Test on the twenty-eight amenable variables. Inspection of the distribution suggests that a few trends may be discerned but, as in the case of sedatives and tranquilizers, these are not worthy of repetition. The conclusion is that intensive users do not differ much from less intensive users; rather, the important distinction is between those with use experience and those without such experience.

With reference to drug histories and, specifically, to correlated-drug use, 99 per cent of amphetamine users have also used alcohol, 87 per cent have smoked tobacco, 44 per cent have used marijuana, 33 per cent have used sedatives, 32 per cent tranquilizers, 17 per cent hallucinogens, 17 per cent special substances, and 4 per cent illicit opiates. Considering the sequence of use of illicit substances for amphetamine-using students, one finds that amphetamine precedes marijuana twice as often as marijuana precedes amphetamine, and amphetamine use precedes hallucinogen use at a rate five times greater than hallucinogens precede amphetamines. Proportionately moreamphetamine users use marijuana than do users of any other approved social or prescription drug.

When we look at the high-intensity amphetamine group compared with the low-intensity group, we find that most (62 per cent) intensive users were introduced to the drug by physicians whereas most (64 per cent) light users were supplied by friends. Intensive users begin earlier; the average initiation age is eighteen whereas lesser users begin at an average age of nineteen. Most parents of users have not used amphetamines, but the ratios differ; 31 per cent of the intensive users report their parents have used them, but only 19 per cent in the less intensive category report such a fact. Only 5 per cent of the non-using group say they have parents who have taken amphetamines. Regarding future plans, only a few non-users (5 per cent) expect to try amphetamines, while 34 per cent of the lesser users and 68 per cent of the intensive users intend to continue with amphetamines.

Only 8 per cent of those using amphetamines report any difficulty in obtaining a supply. For half of those few having difficulty, it means a temporary reduction in use.


A review of the characteristics of users of medically and socially approved drugs compared with those of non-users was undertaken to show differences among users who employ such drugs intensively versus those employing them less intensively. Statistical testing of significance was limited to those variables capable of being handled by the Kolmagorov-Smirnov Test. Our findings show that consistent differences appear for each drug when users are compared with non-users. When intensive users are compared with less intensive users, differences are pronounced for drinkers and smokers, and are not easily discernible among tranquilizer and amphetamine users, and are rare in the case of sedative users. Insofar as differences exist as, for example, with drinkers and smokers—intensive users occupy one end of a continuum, moderate users a mid-point, and non-users an extreme opposite position. In capsule, the satisfied, close-to-family, moderate, religiously active, ideologically stable, technologically oriented, younger lowerclassmen are in the non-using groups. As one moves into using groups—with the exception of sedative users—these characteristics begin to shift in the direction of religious noninvolvement and political interest, with students also being older, more advanced in school, in opposition to parents and conventional values, and so on. These are, of course, common characteristics of the student sample and insofar as drug users, drinkers, and smokers, for example, are a majority, that majority will necessarily be like the total sample. On the other hand, as one moves to more extreme groups—whether intensive smokers, drinkers, amphetamine users, or, to a lesser extent, tranquilizer users—but rarely sedative users—the exaggeration of the statistically normal traits of the total population is evident, and the extreme users are more often found to be "deviant," very dissatisfied, in opposition to their parents, and politically very active and left wing; often they take incompletes, have a lot of drop-out experience, have considerable faith in drugs as tools to achieve a variety of personal and interpersonal purposes, are irreligious, pessimistic, and the like, and often have considerable associated use of such minor drugs as coffee or stay-awakes. The mix and proportions of these extreme users depend entirely upon the accident of sampling which has made our total population comprised of students from five diverse schools.

Since our data-analysis procedures do not lend themselves to subgroup identification, one is hard pressed to define and conceptualize the many subgroups which probably do exist within any given group of students classified by their history of use of any one or group of drugs. On the other band, there are hints in the trend data which suggest--as seen earlier in Chapters Four and Five—a socially and totally uninterested radical subgroup among intensive users, a conservative-athletic subgroup among heavy drinkers, and a psychologically disturbed-depressed and suicidal group, on the one hand, and, perhaps on the other, an excitement-seeking and hyperactive group.

With reference to drug histories, we see what we have seen before, both in this book and in other books (see Blum and Associates, 1964, 1969) : people do not ordinarily use one drug but many. However, individual patterns do vary. For example, most students use alcohol but only one quarter of the alcohol drinkers take sedatives; on the other hand, 64 per cent of the sedative users drink. Clearly, most students begin their psychoactive drug use with alcohol and tobacco, some not going beyond that. Of all the approved drugs, amphetamines are the most closely linked to illicit use; indeed, amphetamine use tends to precede marijuana experience. Intensive users of all the approved drugs start at an earlier age than less intensive users. Among tranquilizer, sedative, and amphetamine users, parental habits regarding the same drugs influence intensity of use, but this is not true for alcohol and tobacco—probably because most parents are users themselves. Student intentions to continue or begin use vary with their present habits; for example, low-intensity users do not intend to continue use—with the exception of alcohol—while an important number of now-"naive" students plan to begin drinking. The first source of the drug does seem to make a difference in terms of intensity of use; in the case of alcohol, parental introductions are associated with intensity, whereas with tranquilizers and amphetamines a physician's prescription is linked to intensive use. With amphetamines less intensive use is associated with peers as a first source; using this as a measure, one estimates that about half of amphetamine use on campus is unsanctioned—that is, informal or illicit.

In conclusion it appears that intensive users of the psychoactive prescription drugs—even if they are used informally, as in the case of amphetamines—do not differ from less intensive users. On the other hand, users of any degree of intensity do differ from non-users, although sedative takers stand out the least (except for clinical subgroups) and amphetamine users are most distinct from amphetamine non-users. The differences of the greatest magnitude between intensive and less intensive users are for the approved social drugs, alcohol and tobacco; less intensive users resemble the average for the total population.

1 The higher proportion of less intensive smokers are among those finding school unrelated to future ideal-life plans—yet this "unrelatedness-of-studies" trend does appear in Chapters Four and Five as linked to drug use compared with non-use.

2 As a corollary, a significant outcome in a direction inconsistent with major trends may well be ignored as a chance deviation.

3 We include one that misses the .05 level by .002.


Our valuable member Richard Blum has been with us since Tuesday, 21 February 2012.

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