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XIII Life Style Interviews PDF Print E-mail
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Books - Students and Drugs
Written by Richard Blum   

This chapter presents the results of intensive interviews with 105 students selected for their intensive involvement in drug, left-wing, right-wing, or religious ideologies. The interview items describe the students' background, interests, activities, viewpoints, and aspects of personal development.


Among the ideological subsamples, the year in school of students differs significantly at the .006 level. One finds that both the right-wing and the right-wing religious groups tend to be comprised of lowerclassmen, whereas the pure-left wing is made up entirely of graduate students. The drug users tend to be upperclassmen, but when drug users are combined and compared with non-users the differences are not significant. What this means is that the components which contribute to significant difference rest upon other than drug-use characteristics---that is, religious and political groupings. We should remark that our sample is skewed toward upperclass and graduate status, while only 30 per cent are lowerclassmen. This compares with the actual per cent of lowerclassmen in School I, which is 21 per cent of the matriculated students and 41 per cent of undergraduates.

Ideological groups differ significantly in the distribution of majors among them, significant at the .053 level. The highest concentration of drug and/or left-wing students is among the arts and humanities and also the social sciences. The religious students and, to a lesser extent, the right wingers have the greatest representation in technology and the hard sciences. When students are classified by drug use only, one finds non-users more often in technology and the hard sciences and users more often in the arts-humanities area, as indicated above. The difference is not significant; one reason is that arts-humanities and social-science majors comprise two thirds of the students in our sample. This is to be compared with the actual representation in School I of these majors, where they constitute 29 per cent of undergraduates and graduates.

Only four out of the 105 students are not American citizens. Of these four, three are extreme left in ideology. These differénces emerge as significant beyond the .001 level (Chi Square = 32.92, 9 degrees of freedom)'.

Given the basis for our nomination and ideological-group classifications, one would expect religious interests per se, as expressed by students, to differ significantly among the ten subgroups. This is the case, significant beyond .001. Let us note that in spite of a lack of deep commitment to religion, some students classified thereby as nonreligious do say they are interested in religion. Classifying students by either use or non-use of illicit drugs, one finds those not involved in drugs are much more interested in religion, significant beyond .001. Among drug users, split by multiple or restricted use, there are no significant differences.

We conclude that expressed interests in religion are significantly different among ideological groups—a finding compatible with our use of deep religious interests as a classificatory device. One finds that those describing themselves as having any religious interests (apart from deep convictions) are much less likely to have interests in drugs.

Among ideological groups there are important differences in religious affiliation. Two categories encompass most of the students, Protestants (non-Fundamentalist) and the "no-religion" group. Students without religion fall heavily into the drug-using and left-politics- leaning ideological groups; religious students—whether Catholic, Protestant, or Jewish—fall, as one would expect, into the religious group. The differences are significant beyond .0001. The same trends occur when drug users are compared with non-users—Protestants, Catholics, and Jews all more often being non-users and the "no-religion" students, users. The differences are significant at the .001 level, but they are not significant when restricted-vs.-multiple users are contrasted to one another.

We expected that those becoming involved in drugs would move away from religion (we assumed a conventional childhood affiliation for these successful and privileged young people in School I), so that they would show more shifting of faiths than would the religious and right-wing groups. The left wing we also expected would move away from past religious sentiments as they espoused liberal-toleft causes. We were wrong. No significant differences appear in response to a question about changing religion when the ideological subgroups are compared. No significant differences appear for the drug users vs. non-users or for the restricted or multiple users, either. On the other hand, those admitting to religious changes do show shifts in expected directions; what we anticipated was that the drug users and the liberal-to-left political students would move from what we termed "strong" to "weak" religions.' The strong-to-weak shift is shown among drug and left-wing ideological groups (including the combined groups) compared with others, significant at .068. The same trend is shown when drug users are combined and compared with non-users, the differences significant at .07.

Although no significant differences obtain when ideological groups are compared for the congruity or homogeneity of religious faith within the home (student, mother, and father), the trend emerges when combined-drug users are compared with non-users, significant at .056. We may note clinically that the greatest homogeneity occurs among nondrug users but that more occasions occur among drug users when the student is lined up with either the father against the mother or against the combined father-mother religion. On the other hand, we do not see any trend where the drug-using student is lined up with the mother against the father as Keniston's (1967) findings might suggest. Multiple-drug users do show, on the other hand, more congruence than restricted users—not significantly so but enough to suggest that when the pattern is one of the use of socially sanctioned drugs, it may well be that the student is acting with rather than against parents (if religion can be taken as a "with" measure).

When compared, the ideological groups show significant differences (P = .016) in expressed interest in local and national politics. Religious and drug-only groups are least interested, while right-wing, right-and-religious, drug-and-left, and left-wing groups are more interested.

As one would expect from the definitions employed to create ideological groups, there are significant differences ( P = .001) among students in terms of their political preferences or affiliations. Our right-wing students are conservatives, the drug-left are left, and so on. What is more striking and less expected is the lack of radical affiliation among the drug-only group, who are mostly Democrats or apolitical. All drug users combined emerge significantly (at .001) more left and the nonusers either more conventional or right wing.

There is a trend, significant only at .10 for ideological groups, to differ on the congruence or homogeneity of father-mother-student on political affiliation. Religious and right-wing students describe their families more often as sharing political views; drug-using and left-wing students more often present themselves as standing opposed to the combined (congruent) parental views. Rarely are families described in which all persons differ; when so described, it is most often the drug-and-left students who do so.

When all drug users are compared with non-users, the trend becomes significant at the .002 level. We find that whole-family congruence on politics is the situation most often reported for nondrug-using students, while for drug-using ones the picture is one of the student set against the politics of mother-father. We also see the earlier trend, not significant, whereby multiple-drug users report more whole-family congruence than do restricted users. Again, we suggest that wide use of sanctioned drugs can be a with-family rather than against-family phenomenon.

We expected that drug users would report more childhood food problems (aversions, lack of appetite, and so forth) because of our anticipating that illicit-drug use is a form of deviant ingestion and, more dynamically, may imply oral preoccupations not adequately gratified by ordinary means. Unfortunately, the question was omitted from the schedule and asked, on the basis for an addendum, of only seventeen students. Ideological groups as such show no differences in such reporting, but when drug users are combined to be compared with non-users, the expected trend emerges, significant at the .067 level. Given the low N and the finding, it is clear that this inquiry area demands further exploration.


We have seen that one classification is grouped according to multiple- vs. restricted-drug use based on inquiries as to experience with over-the-counter, prescription, social, and illicit drugs. It is not surprising that our groups differ on that experience; among ideological samples, the least variety of use is reported by religious-only students, left-only, and right-only students, and the greatest variety of use is reported among various drug-using students (significant at .001 level). All drug users combined, as expected, show significantly more variety of drugs employed than do non-users, significant at .001. The differences are not in the use of painkillers or sanctioned social drugs but in the prescription psychoactives and illicit-exotic substances.

Although no significant differences emerge between drug users and non-users in terms of named first source of painkillers and sanctioned social drugs (tobacco and alcohol), the two groups do differ significantly (.022) on their initial source of prescription psychoactives (stimulants—including amphetamines—sedatives, tranquilizers, antidepressants). Excluding from analysis the non-users who have not had any of these drugs, one finds among non-users of illicit-exotic drugs that parents, physicians, and the student himself (that is, he seeks out the drug on his own) are more often the first source, whereas among those who use illicit drugs, the first source of prescribed psychoactives is informal—illicit also, as they receive their drugs more often from friends, siblings, or from a variety of sources (which implies early, frequent use utilizing several sources, some of which are nonsanctioned). The implication is that users of the frankly illicit drugs also get prescription drugs in informal or illicit ways, which are geared to agemates and are necessarily social and uncontrolled. Non-illicit users rely more heavily on authorities for their prescription drugs and use them in ways that are either controlled or private.

There is a significant relationship between a student's drug use and his family's. When total congruence scores for both use and nonuse of all drugs inquired about are compared among ideological groups, one finds the greatest congruity among right-wing and religious students, the least among drug-only and drug-and-left-wing groups. The differences are significant beyond .001. The same trend appears when all drug users combined are contrasted to non-users; family congruence is higher for the non-using students, significant beyond the .001 level. What is implied is that there is a shared use of sanctioned drugs and a shared non-use of the illicit-exotic ones among non-illicit users, whereas among illicit-drug users congruence is low by virtue of their experience with illicit compounds, an experience their parents do not in any large measure share. When multiple users are compared with restricted users, we find, conversely, that there is greater family congruence among the former, significant at .056—a distribution which we have commented upon earlier.

Students offered reasons (sometimes several each) for their first use of illicit-exotic drugs. We find the following proposed as reasons by the majority of students who have used marijuana, LSD, and so on: 60 per cent say they first took an illicit-exotic drug out of curiosity or for adventure. This theme of novelty and excitement stands as the primary "motive" offered by students for their initial illicit-exotic drug behavior. Other reasons put forth less often are, for example, as follows: 25 per cent say they used such a drug because they were in a social situation where they were persuaded to try it or where the example of others using it led them to do so; 25 per cent deny they made any active decision or had any reason to try drugs and "it just happened"; 23 per cent say they took a drug on the basis of (intellectual) information describing drug effects; 15 per cent say their reason was because of personal goals of an aesthetic-sensory nature; 12 per cent for fun, kicks, or pleasure; 8 per cent because of personal goals of a religious-mystical nature; 8 per cent for self-exploration or enhanced self-perception; and 4 per cent out of rebellion against convention or the law (or parental wishes).


Students were asked to describe the importance to their parents of several orientations to living: success in the world (money, prestige, possessions), being religious, caring about politics and power, understanding oneself, maintaining health and bodily strength, maintaining traditions and the status quo, adjustment in the sense of getting along with others and avoiding strife-anxiety, having a good time ( drinking, eating well, socializing, pleasant leisure), and being with family and children (enjoying family life, emphasizing family over outside activities). Restricting ourselves to significant differences only, we find that parental values, as perceived and reported by the students, which emphasize success, religion, politics, traditions, and adjustment do show a discrimination among (at least some) groups beyond the .05 level. Parental values on family and good times show a discrimination at .10 or better. Specifically, political students—pure left and pure right—see their parents as emphasizing success (significant at .16), whereas non-users of drugs compared with users more often see their parents as valuing success—this significant at .002. Religious students describe their parents as emphasizing religion, while the drug-left group (and some right-wing students) say their parents do not consider religion important (significant at .001). Similarly, the drug users combined say their parents do not emphasize religion as a life orientation; non-users of drngs say their parents do, significant beyond .001. All political groups (right and left wing) see their parents as emphasizing politics, whereas the drug-only and pure-religious groups more often say their parents do not consider politics important, significant at .071. Self-understanding as a value does not emerge as a significant discriminator among any groups. Health as a value does not emerge as significant, although the trend is for non-users of drugs to report their parents as emphasizing it more (P = .121), than users; similarly, multiple-drug users more often say their parents emphasize health than do restricted-drug users, significant at .12. Emphasis on traditions reflects a difference among the parents (that is, as students perceive their parents )', with the drug users saying their parents do not value tradition or the status quo, whereas both religious-and-right-wing students say their parents do, significant at .005. In the same way, non-users of drugs have parents who value traditions, whereas drug users do not, significant beyond .001. Adjustment, or getting along, is emphasized more—report the students—by parents of drug users and left-wing students than by parents of religious or right-wing students, significant at .01. Among all drug users, combined parents more often value getting along in contrast to non-users, significant beyond .001. Having a good time is not an important item, although religious students, in contrast to all others, more often say this is not valued by their parents, significant at .10. Emphasis on the family is said more often by nondrug users to characterize their parents than by users, significant at .068; similarly, multiple-drug users say their parents emphasize family more than restricted users, significant at .09.

We derive from these student views the conclusion that students do, in fact, see their parents as valuing general themes that are akin to the themes and ideologies which they themselves embrace. Going one step further, we presume that these differences are real, that their parents do differ, and that these differences are such that children do grow up in families whose orientations strongly influence what they as students come to value. Further, even when students see themselves as independent from or opposed to their parents—as we saw in earlier chapters is the case with drug-using and left-wing students—those differences must occur within rather narrow ideological limits, although differences as such may well reflect interpersonal (familial) conflict or distress. Consider, for example, how much of what constitutes the apparent values of extreme drug users—reduced emphasis on work, change-oriented status quo denying politics, irreligiousness, being distant from family, and getting along with others (the love ethic) are derived directly from parental values, even though perhaps expressed more extremely by committed drug users. We would also expect that the pleasure theme would more often characterize parents of drug users and are surprised it does not. As for the health theme, it is consistent that multiple-drug users do have parents emphasizing it more —an orientation compatible with the greater use of prescription drugs.

As for the other groups, there are no incompatibilities in the ideology of the religious or right-wing students compared with those of their parents—which they report to be much like their own. The pure left-wing students are too small a group to allow much inference; that their parents may emphasize success, politics, and getting along '(we would stretch this to embrace a theme of social harmony and not tradition or religion) is a phenomenon at least compatible with the ambitious ( and successful) radicalism of the left-wing leaders who comprise our sample.

We used a list of twenty specific issues, much like the items on issues in the student survey, and asked students to rate their parents individually and themselves as pro or con (for example, pacifism, socialism, segregation, getting out of Vietnam, using LSD, and so on).

What we call here "identification" was termed "family homogeneity" in earlier chapters; what we called "opposition" earlier we shall now term "independence." The former is simply the sum of issue agreements among student and parents and the latter issue, disagreements between the student and the combined parental position.

High scores, indicative of family homogeneity on issues and of inferred identification of student with parents, occur among right-wing, right-religious, and religious-and-left-wing students. The lower scores are found among drug users, including one subgroup of the drug-left group. The differences are significant at the .037 level. When drug users are combined and compared with all non-users, the same trend emerges; users report less family homogeneity and, we infer, less adequate identification with parents than do non-users, significant at .03.

Independence, inferred from a large number of issues on which the student says he differs from or is opposed to the combined position of both parents, does not differ significantly when all ideological groups are examined but does discriminate between drug users as such when compared with non-users. Drug users are more independent (or oppositional) than non-users, significant at .03.


We asked students about crises, troubles, or sorrows they had experienced which had been a major influence on their lives. These were coded as to kind of crises, severity, and age at time of occurrence and were then compared group with group. Ideological groups, we find, do not differ among themselves, significantly, only on the frequency with which crises—any kind of crises—are reported; however, drug users when combined and compared with non-users do differ on the frequency of reporting family-relationship crises, with drug users more often perceiving family crises as having influenced their lives (significant at .042). Trends toward differences occur among ideological groups in regard to crises with age-mates (friends, lovers, spouses), significant at .078 (with left-wing and religious students reporting more).

Another question asked about disillusionments as such. A trend toward differences exists in the extent to which important interpersonal disillusionments are reported among ideological groups, right-wing students being those with fewest and drug users the most—significant at .07. Drug users combined and compared with non-users show the same trend; more students who have never been seriously disillusioned with other people are nondrug users, significant at .094. There is also a trend for ideological groups to differ (significant at .097) in the reporting of disillusionments with abstract ideals—including the law and their faiths—the left-wing-and-the-drug-plus-religion group reporting proportionately more idealistic disillusionments.

Students were asked about revelations, or other reorganizing experiences, which brought new solutions, joy, or understanding to their lives. Important differences show up among ideological groups, among whose members the majority report some kind of revelation or wonderfully reorganizing experience. Drug-induced revelations are reported by most of the drug users and by none of the pure-political students and only one pure-religious student. On the other hand, nondrug revelations are described by most of the pure-left students, most religious students, most drug-plus-left students, and half of the right-wing ones, as well. The overall differences are significant beyond .001. The same degree of significance obtains when drug users are compared with non-users—drug students reporting a preponderance of drug-induced revelations and non-users reporting a preponderance of other types of joyful or problem-solving reorganizing experiences. When the focus is on religious-mystical revelations, particularly significant differences among ideological groups emerge (.016), with religious students, left-wing ones, and right-religious students highest; however, drug-only users are low in such reporting. Sensory-induced revelations (sunsets, sex, music, and so on) also show differences by ideological group (significant overall at .035) and are most commonly described among the drug-plus-left and the drug-plus-religion groups. Drug users when compared with non-users show a significantly greater number of reports of sensory-induced, nondrug revelations, significant at the .011 level.

Ideological groups differ significantly (beyond the .001 level)' on the expression of dissatisfaction with school. Proportionately high satisfaction is found among religious and right-wing students and proportionately low satisfaction among drug users and left-wing students. Drug users combined and compared with non-users also show significant differences (.019 level) in the same direction.

Students were asked about the extent to which they were now certain about their life and career goals and also whether or not their parents were in sympathy with these. We find that ideological groups differ significantly overall (.019 level) in respect to these. Among pure-right, pure-left, and religious groups, goals are clear and parents approve; among drug users and the drug-plus-left group, goals are much less clear and parents are perceived as disapproving. When all drug users are compared with non-users, the same trends are seen of uncertainty and perceived parental disapproval of the present status or the future plans among drug users, significant at .02.

Students were asked whether there were persons whom they would really want to be like--an admired model for themselves to become. Again, we find that significant differences emerge among ideological groups (at .016). Left-wing and drug groups least often describe another person as their model : the religious and right-wing groups most often did so. When all drug users are compared with all others, the same trend, albeit attenuated, emerges (significant at .099). When the models were identified and coded by us by type of occupa-
tion and by intimacy (known persons vs. distant or unknown persons), significant overall differences also obtain, although that statistic continues to reflect the high number of drug users and left-wing students without any model or idealized persons. We do see that the pure-left group chooses no personal models—that is, members do not want to be like anybody they actually know but, rather, select political or artistic people. Religious students emphasize persons known to them and, in addition, philosophers or religious figures. Drug users when they do have models usually select distant ones, often artists but occasionally philosophers, politicians, and the like. Right-wing students, like the pure-left ones, emphasize political figures when their idealized person is not someone they know. The kind of model is not found to be significant when drug users as a group are compared with non-users.

Students were asked to nominate five great persons living in the world today. Although analysis of replies for hero-rejection (that is, "There are no great men") and for distant-vs.-known persons shows no overall significant (level is .114) difference among ideological groups, the drug-only group has the highest proportion of hero-rejecting answers. When those nominating heroes are classified by type of hero chosen, significant differences emerge. Those nominating avantgarde artists, for example (such as James Baldwin, Joan Baez, and so on), select them at different rates (significant at .031 )' with drug-only users high and others low; the same trend appears when all usersare combined to contrast to non-users, significant at the .027 level.

Here, too, multiple-drug users choose more avant-garde artists than restricted-drug users, significant at .034 level. The choice of other artists (traditional or modern but not avant-garde--for example, Steinbeck and Hesse) also differs significantly among ideological groups (at .028 level) with drug users and the left high on selecting them as heroes and religious and right-wing students less often nominating them. When drug users are combined, there is a significantly greater nomination by them of artists—at .003 level—than by nondrug users. Heroes with change-oriented ideologies (intellectuals but not politicians, such as Alan Watts, Leary, Fromm, and Sartre) are also nominated at significantly different rates (.002 level) by the ideological groups. The drug-plus-left group has the highest rate of such nominees; the drug-only group is also high; pure-right and pure-left political students are low. When drug users are compared with non-users, the same trend obtains, the level of significance being beyond .001. Heroes in positions of legitimized power (Mao, De Gaulle, Castro, Churchill, and so on) are differentially nominated (significant at .057 level), right and left political students nominating them at high rates and the drug-only students at lower rates. Drug users compared with non-users show the same trend, significant at .002. The choice of insurgent political leaders (power not legitimized) also varies significantly (.021 level) ; the drug-plus-left group most often chooses them, as does the pure left and, following in rank, the religious students. Drug-only students and the right wing do not choose heroes such as Che Guevara, Trotsky, Martin Luther King, and Gandhi (here, students clearly do not confine themselves to the living). In this comparison, drug users do not differ from non-users. Apolitical religious leaders (Tillich, the Pope, Billy Graham, Buber, and so on) are also chosen at different rates (significant at .01) with religious students doing so often and drug users doing so rarely—a trend repeated when drug users are compared with non-users (significant at .001)'.


The same question asked in the general survey was asked of these ideologically select students. Differences in the valences of principles guiding conduct in regard to illicit drugs emerge as significant among groups beyond the .001 level. An all-negative approach is most often espoused by right-wing and religious students, followed in rank by the pure-left, whereas drug users present either an all-positive approach or a negative-positive mix. The same trend is seen, significant beyond .001, when drug users are compared with non-users. Specific differences occur—at levels of significance beyond .05—when drug users are compared with others in respect to the risk of physical harm they feel drugs may offer, the effect of drugs on the student's social status, social values, or conceptions of appropriate behavior, the presence of personal motives or desires for pleasure, and the extent to which there is no regard for rules. It may be as important to note principles which do not differentiate drug users from non-users here; these include expressed concerns of morality, worries of undesirable changes in self, risk of change in social relations, attitudes of friends, and the views of authorities—including laws themselves. Thus, the drug-resistant group, essentially, may have either fears of physical damage or an absence of personal interest in drug experiences including drug-induced euphoria, or may judge drugs as socially inappropriate. Morals and laws are not admitted, even among the religious and right-wing students (all of whom may conceive of themselves as "sophisticates" at School I), as deterrents to using marijuana and LSD.

Students were asked whether they had always had pretty much the same views on drugs, whether there had been a slow evolution in their ideas, or whether there had been some sudden shift, insight, or a crisis in belief which had led to a new and different position on drug taking. We find that differences in response characterize the ideological groups, their overall significance being beyond the .001 level. Right-wing students unanimously and most religious and pure-left students say they have not changed their views at any time; those religious students indicating a shift say it has been gradual. Only in the drug-only and drug-plus-left groups are there any number reporting sudden shifts in belief. In these groups, the majority report an evolution of views. When drug users are combined and compared with non-users, the same trend, significant beyond .001, occurs. We find that about four fifths of the users report a shift, one third of this latter group saying it has been sudden; on the other hand, among all non-users less than a fourth have changed their views at all.

Items similar to those in the general survey inquired as to which groups students thought were most dangerous in the country today. Among ideological groups overall significant differences in nominations occur. Those holding power (the Establishment) are nominated as enemies most often by the left-and-drug-using students, never by the pure right, and rarely by religious students (significant at .005 level). The same trend appears when drug users are compared with nonusers, significant at .007 level. The left wing nominated as an enemy also differentiates the groups, significant overall at .001. The right-wing and religious students nominate the left as the menace; the left-wing and drug users do not. Drug users combined and compared with non-users show the same trend, significant at .001 level. Neither the middle-of-the-roaders nor the right wing as enemy achieve significance in different rates of nomination. This is because middle-of-the-roaders are mostly disregarded, whereas right wingers are nominated by some right-wing-and-religious students as dangerous.

As expected, drug users report significantly ( at .009 level) that more of their friends are also drug users than do the non-users. All but 7 per cent of non-users deny any involvement in groups with drug interests as such and only one person says most of his friends are in such groups. In contrast, 86 per cent of the users say some or most of their friends are involved in drug-interested groups; 57 per cent of all users say most of their friends are in such groups.

Ideological groups differ significantly ( .001 level) on repcirted membership in formal organizations. Only pure-drug students hold no memberships in formal clubs, associations, teams, and so forth; in contrast, right-wing students are involved with the largest number of clubs, while left students and religious students are also active. When drug users are combined and contrasted to all other students, the difference in organizational activity is significant beyond the .001 level.

The same list of thirteen groups or classes employed in the general survey to inquire about insider-outsider feelings was used here. We shall indicate only a few specific differences occurring and then consider total scores. For example, drug users more often report (significant at .056) feeling as outsiders with their own families and, at School I, in relationship to the student body (significant at .018) . Overall, on the thirteen groups, drug users compared with others describe themselves as outsiders more often than non-users; specifically, more than half of the users feel outside of three or more groups; more than half of the non-users feel outside of two or fewer groups. The same score reveals differences among ideological groups, significant beyond .001. Noteworthy is the fact that the pure-religious and the religious-plusright-wing students most often feel outside of none of the groups. Regarding a few other items, one finds, amusingly, that most religious students and many right wingers feel "in" with the campus hipsters or swingers, and all of these say they are "in" with the "student revolt" as well. Ironically, the drug users more often feel outside of the campus hipster group (swingers, "heads"). Most students feel "out" of the university power structure, but the feeling is more common among the left and drug segments; the same is true in regard to feeling "in" or "out" with the people who hold power in the country. ( Worthy of special note and further irony is that during the time of a Democratic President [Johnson] more right wingers—and, to a lesser degree, religious students also—felt "in" among the national power holders than any other student group.) As far as "being an American" goes, this is something that most drug and left students feel on the outs about; the right-wing and religious students feel strongly "in." All of these items are drawn from tables where overall significance of differences among ideological groups are beyond the .05 level.


Age. Had our sample been like the random survey sample, we would have expected that drug users would be in the older group. We find, however, that over three fourths of this special sample are age twenty and over, which means that we have selected older students. Even so, the trend is in the expected direction; the right-wing and religious students are youngest, having median ages at eighteen and nineteen, whereas the drug-use-only group has a median age of twenty-one. Members of the pure-left wing are oldest and have a median age of twenty-four and above. The age differences are significant only at the .158 level. However, when drug users are compared with non-users, significance is achieved at the .074 level. One would note that the year in school is a more powerful factor than age in contributing to ideological position; this is a trend noticeable in the survey data as well and suggests that drug and left-wing ideologies especially develop with students' exposure to university life—or perhaps become visible as leaders in these groups develop. We have also seen earlier, in the survey data, that age and year in school have an effect on the marijuana group in that use begins to diminish as students get older.

Sex. The distribution of the eighty-four men and twenty-one women in our sample among the nine ideological groups plus the "controls" demonstrates no significant difference. This ratio of 4 :1 males to females compares with the ratio in School I of 8,962 males to 2,596 females. It appears that our nomination and selection procedures did encompass more men as well as more older students. This is not surprising if nomination as an outstanding and ideologically committed student is seen to rest upon visibility, recognition on campus, and election to formal office or informal leadership—all of which probably rest upon sex, age, and school-year characteristics.

Father's occupation. It will be recalled from Chapter Two that School I has the wealthiest students. It is no surprise, then, that 75 per cent of the sample have fathers in executive or professional positions. Given this clustering in one occupation and income stratum, it is not surprising, either, that no significant differences emerge among ideological or drug-use groups when fathers are classified by occupation.

Parents alive. Both parents are alive in the case of 89 per cent of the sample. No significant differences obtain in the distribution of students with one or both parents dead.

Housing mobility. In the survey sample, housing mobility more often characterized drug users and their families. In our sarnple, one third of the students have lived in six houses or more by the time of high school graduation. There is no significant difference in the distribution of housing mobility by ideology or by drug-use status except that multiple-drug users have tended to move more than restricted users, significant at the .09 level.

School politics. There are no significant differences among subsamples in their interest in school politics.

Medical problems. We expected that drug users would differ in the kinds of medical problems they reported in a brief medical-life history; we also expected them to report more psychosomatic or "functional" disorders and to have medical problems at an earlier age. Generally, we expected them to report more illness. We find the data do not bear us out.

Age of onset of legitimate-drug use. We expected drug users to begin use of sanctioned drugs earlier, and in a life history we asked them for age of first use of medically and socially approved substances. We find no significant differences emerge.

Crises. We expected drug users and left wingers to be more sensitive to a variety of life crises and not only to report more of these but to report them in such a way that interviewers would rate them as more severe crises compared with those of other groups. Our data show that, except for the family crises which do emerge as expected, the groups do not differ in their reporting of their own health, health of others, or money and self-development crises. What is implied is that drug users at least do not see themselves as experiencing more trauma or setbacks in life—except within their families—than do other students.

Disillusionment. We expected drug users to report a wider variety of disillusioning experiences. Data show that interpersonal disillusionments do characterize the drug group and disillusionments in ideals, the left wing; nevertheless, these are not dramatic, and a variety of other coded kinds of disillusionment do not emerge. This finding supports the crisis data above in suggesting that drug users do not see themselves as suffering a variety of trauma but that they do feel they have suffered interpersonal—and especially family—trauma.

Hopes regarding goal achievement and changing the world. Unlike the survey or fraternity-house samples, the experimental samples of students here do not differ in their optimism or pessimism about life-goal achievements or their wishes to change the world. The direction is as expected, with drug users more pessimistic (level of probability .179) and less interested in changing the world (probability level .181).

Life expectations. Asked the same question as the survey sample about whether they found their present life better, worse, or the same as they had expected it, students followed the trend as predicted. Drug users more often say it is worse—but it is not significant at the .05 level (significant only at .109 level).

School performance. The survey findings indicated that illicit-drug users, for the most part, did not differ in grade-point averages from other students. We asked this sample not about grade points but about their being on the dean's list or having an academic scholarship; results indicate we have no differences to report. We also asked them about troubles in getting down to studying; again, we have no differences to report. Only on one variable is there a trend; drug users do say they find it harder to get their work in on time (significant at .09 level) compared with non-users. We believe that this report is linked to the lack of interest in conventional modes of achievement as exemplified in the high past and planned drop-out rates shown in the survey samples, along with the absence of clear plans as reported earlier in this chapter for the drug-using group. What emerges strongly from all the data so far is that students who use drugs, including committed users in school at the time of inquiry, do not perform less well on any academic measure applied. Illicit-drug users as such are neither better nor worse students than their peers. The implication is that drug use does not interfere with day-to-day academic performance. We have seen that such drug use is correlated with dropping-out as such and with dissatisfaction, but these are clearly not a consequence of intellectual incompetence. This is not to say that drugs may not, during an acute phase, interfere with studying; we have seen from the analysis of bad outcomes ( Chapter Nine) that this may well occur, but legitimate drugs, as well as illicit ones, can contribute to functioning difficulties as part of either toxic or emotional reactions. Given the fact that some of the students in the survey panel and experimental samples have been using illicit drugs often and over time, we also conclude that no evidence exists for probable damage to intellectual functioning over a several-year period, at least among those students who stay in school.


It will be recalled that when asked about drug beliefs, drug users for the most part said they had undergone shifts in their beliefs about drug use, while others had not. Those differences were significant. Now, considering questions about changes in religion and politics, we find no significant differences exist among groups in the rate reporting such shifts. With regard to religion, about 30 per cent have changed religion (only 5 per cent of them moving from weak to strong religions). With reference to shifts in political ideology, 39 per cent of the sample report changes. Of these, 36 per cent of the total sample say they have moved in a liberal or left direction. About half of the students who are now left wing (and keep in mind our sample is comprised of committed left-wing students) are among those reporting such shifts. We conclude that the majority of our sample are now ideologically in the same place they started with regard to religion and politics, that original position presumably being in the bosom of each of their family's beliefs. An important minority, about one third, say they have shifted in important ways; when we examine these, we find that nearly all shifts are in a liberalizing direction—a direction which is quite predictable given the presumed intent of a university to open minds to new ideas and, in addition, School I's reputation for a liberal faculty. Thus, we propose that about 95 per cent of the student's broad ideological position is accounted for by family beliefs and being in a liberal university. The intensity of the shifts that do occur—that is, to left-wing views presumably beyond most faculty and parents' views, as well—is yet to be accounted for, although when we consider the student revolt, it is obviously "part of our times," whatever that phrase may imply. We think that the extremity component is not only culturally induced but individually as well.

In any event, what is rare in our sample is a reversal in any belief system in religion or politics—"reversal" being defined as moving into a dogma opposed by family and university surround. Just as Rokeach (1968) points out, when religious "conversions" occur, they are usually only one-step ones to the religion next door—that is, from Episcopal to Catholic, Congregational to Unitarian, and so on. When more marked conversions do take place, they are likely to be in response to very strong interpersonal pressures, as, for example, when marrying into a different faith or shifting into or becoming a member of a new class group and then changing religion to match the new surroundings. The drug changes, on the other hand, which appear to be more dramatic insofar as they are limited to drug users and presuma bly d6 not reflect official parental or university positions, may be of a different order. For the majority of users, the shifts are gradual; as we inspect data from Chapter Sixteen, we see how these are in part responses to the views and use habits of peers and leaders in residential units, and as we look over the life themes said by students to be important to their parents, we see that these are also compatible with the emergence of a drug ethic. Furthermore, from the studies of the New Left, described in Chapter One, and our own survey observations on the high economic status—and implied high educational level with its correlated liberalism—of drug-using students, we conclude that parents of drug users are more liberal than those of non-users. There is also the minor observation from the examination of drug histories that for almost all drugs the parents of users are more likely themselves to be users, although in the case of the illicit drugs such parental use is unusual. What these observations imply is that the general drug-use orientation (primarily for licit drugs) and the liberal atmosphere of such homes, with their emphasis on adjustment and disregard of tradition, are settings in which the development of children who come to be illicit-drug experimenters or users occurs. In the case of drugs, the development is more extreme than that of the parents, and we believe that this exaggeration over the family and university ethic rests on additional factors in the individual and his group. Some of those factors, implied by both the survey data and the comparison data of this chapter, may include the following: feelings of apartness from important groups; general dissatisfaction; pessimism about conventional means and ends; lack of involvement in countervailing belief systems such as traditional religion; exposure to peer groups already using drugs; personal interest in self-pleasures through drugs; the presence of curiosity and other self-centering goals; particular opposition to parental stands and the presence of unresolved crises in family relationships; and the actual effects of drugs which previous to the initial experimentation have been described as pleasurable, useful, and reorganizing experiences. Other specific test-derived inferences about drug-user personalities as also playing a role will be explored in the next chapter.

We conclude, to this point, that student drug use insofar as it reflects an ideology develops along lines similar to political or religious beliefs in that it derives from the values and practices in the home, is modified by contact with a liberal university atmosphere, and is solidified—or comes to flower—in the presence of peers in school. The committed drug user differs in his development of a drug-linked ideology in that, unlike the right or religious students, he selects a route not compatible with the conventions of the larger society and, unlike the left, his route emphasizes positive personal ends rather than social goals and experiences which can be achieved by pharmacological agents. The engaged student drug user also differs from other "pure" ideological students in that, more than they, he feels opposition or apartness from his parents and most of his peers. Furthermore, there are the personal factors of pessimism, dissatisfaction, childhood food problems, childhood use of illness for gratification, lack of close ties to others, and so on, which imply distress or, at least, frustration or disappointment and which are reflected in higher prevalence among the drug users. Again, there is implicit the belief that distress can be alleviated by psychoactive drugs, both licit and illicit ones. We also suggest that the association between the left and drug ideology is important and functional and that both ideologies, in their expressed idealism, change-orientation, antiauthority sentiments, and emphasis on personal freedom—if not ascendancy, reflect not only parental influence and personal predilections but also a responsiveness to actual forces within the society which make life painful and disappointing to young and old.


In this chapter we have compared the reports of students—as gathered from an intensive interview—who engage in different ways of life. These life styles which we have chosen to call ideologies include left-wing, right-wing, religious, and drug-use commitments. The students chosen to represent these ideologies were nominated by their peers in School I as representing intense and active involvement along each of these lines. We found that exclusive (or single-minded or "pure") involvements were hard to find, for there was often an overlap between drug use and left-wing commitments. Nevertheless, some exclusively left-wing students could be found just as could many exclusively drug-using students. The exclusive drug users tend to be apolitical and inactive, whereas the left can be like the exclusive right, firmly opposed to drug use and committed to political action only. (The illicit, drug-using radical left commented to us that heavy involvement in drug use is irrelevant to their goals; they view heavy drug users as unable to perform effectively in radical politics because of their casual behSvior, the presumed drug effects, and the risk of losing key personnel through arrests.)

On most of the items of inquiry, based on our original expectations about differences among the ideological groups and between drug users and non-users, findings are significant in the expected directions. In almost every case, these findings are compatible with those of the survey, panel, and fraternity samples as well. For example, drug users tend to be upperclassmen, arts-humanities or social-science majors, irreligious, and opposed to parents on many specific issues, including politics and religion. Drug users unlike non-users report more childhood food problems, more family crises, more interpersonal disillusionment, a greater variety of use of legitimate drugs—particularly the prescribed psychoactive drugs—and the use of informal-illicit sources to obtain these latter drugs. Among drug users there is least similarity of drug-use patterns with parents because these students engage in illicit use whereas most of the parents do not. The illicit users are guided by beliefs in the benevolence of illicit drugs and report as initial motivations curiosity and adventure seeking or the response to social pressures. Non-users, on the other hand, worry about physical damage, believe illicit use is inappropriate for themselves, and report an absence of interest in drug-induced euphoria or drug-induced self-focused experiences and effects. Importantly, few students either among users or non-users say they do not use illicit drugs because of reasons of morality, illegality, or the disapproval of authorities—whether parental, scientific, or what-have-you.

Students, in general, follow directly in their parents' footsteps or, when shifting away from parental ideologies, do so in the liberalizing direction offered by the university atmosphere and in response to the presence of peers who have already arrived at liberal positions. Drug users most often have friends who are also drug users. The drug-only user is unlike religious and politically committed students in that he is likely to have changed his views on drugs, although these changes are themselves compatible with the inferred liberality of his parents, their unconventionality and lack of political interest, and their use of sanctioned drugs. In the case of the committed drug-only user, something more is added that is associated with his shifts in beliefs alrut the use of illicit drugs. This "something more" is independence of, opposition to, or rebellion against parents and also emotional distance from most peers, as well as high personal dissatisfaction, pessimism, and so on. With regard to the selection of life models and ideological heroes, the drug-only users tend to have no models; in fact, they tend to reject heroes and, when choosing, nominate distant rather than personally known individuals. One also infers the importance of drug effects as such for drug users, those in the nature of providing not only pleasure but life-reorganizing experiences (revelations )..

The religious, right-wing, and pure-left-wing students also differ in many ways from drug users, although the right-wing and religious students are often similar in reporting family cohesiveness, high satisfactions, and the like. Right wing and left wing are similar in their emphasis on political areas—although not in content—including the derivation of their ideologies from their families. As to particular characteristics of each of these groups compared with others, we need reiterate only the important feature that very few of the students in any group show marked shifts over their lifetimes toward beliefs that are in opposition to family or school settings, even though many do report important experiences that they believe have changed their lives. Sharp "conversions" and dramatic rebellion are the exception even among the committed drug users.

In all of this, however, wc must remember that our committed drug users of 1966 were but a small group on campus. By now, things have changed and one must expect that the followers—and the sample contained many of the early leaders—by their very number will be less dramatic in their engagements and less intense in their differences from those who remain non-users or simply curious or derring-do experimenters.

1 By "strong" we meant religions of dogma, faith, emotion, and doctrine; by "weak" we meant religions with more humanistic or intellectual but less compelling articles of faith; for example, Jewish, Methodist, and Catholic would be "strong" and Unitarians, Friends, and Congregationalists would be "weak." We recognize that these shifts might also be conceived in terms of upward class or professional mobility.


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

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