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XXI Epilogue: Students and Drugs PDF Print E-mail
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Books - Students and Drugs
Written by Richard Blum   

We saw at the time of our 1966-1967 survey and related studies that a goodly minority of students in the colleges studied had experimented with illicit drugs, primarily marijuana. We also saw from the four subsidiary follow-up studies conducted in 1968 on one of those campuses that a remarkable increase in use had occurred, an increase very much in line with the statements in the earlier year by students who expressed their intention to begin illicit-drug use. The concurrent high school studies suggest this same expansion of interest and use, and document, as do our other data, the continued lowering of the age for the initial use of illicit drugs, again primarily marijuana. We also learned that the pool of potential recruits for illicit-drug experimentation is by no means exhausted; the 1968 data show not only that a majority of the students have had illicit-drug experience but that there are still some who have not yet had that experience but who intend to begin. Experimentation, of course, is not the same as regular use, but while the former has increased, so has the latter; in School I—at least at the time of the repeat surveys—about 14 per cent report being regular users of marijuana. For the 1968 high school studies, the figures range between 18 per cent and 39 per cent. We also saw that once illicit-exotic drug use is initiated, it may well broaden to include a variety of illicit substances. Those using drugs tend to use a variety of them. We must anticipate an increasing willingness among illicit users and especially among the regular users to expand their drug repertoire to embrace new hallucinogens as they come on the market and to play with narcotics—opium at the moment but, perhaps one day soon, more heroin as well. Methamphetamine, of course, is included, and in time the new compounds linked in action and structure to the amphetamines and the hallucinogens will be more in use.

What is happening now, in 1968-1969, is what has been happening over the last fifteen years, ever since the "drug movement" (or craze) began with the introduction of mescaline ( Huxley, 1954) and of LSD into the intellectual, artistic, and professional communities and spread to the student populations in metropolitan centers. What we see now is a rapidly increasing tempo. While it took approximately ten years, by our estimate, for experimentation and use to shift from the older intellectual-artistic groups to graduate students, it took only an estimated five years to catch on among undergraduates, only two or three years to move to a significant number of high school students, and, then, within no more than two years, to move to upper elementary grades—although we have no sound data as yet on the numbers involved in elementary schools. This progression is apparent only for metropolitan centers such as the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, Boston, and New York. We assume that each area, as with each neighborhood, will have its variations on the theme. Nevertheless, one may reasonably expect that the phenomenon everywhere demonstrates the rapidly lowering age for initial use and the interest in a variety of drugs, with the most potent ones being least used and marijuana being the most popular. As the base number of marijuana-experienced students expands, so does the proportion willing to risk LSD, DMT, STP, opium, heroin, methamphetamine, and the like.

With the continued increase in the number of students experimenting with illicit drugs, we have also seen an increased number of official cases, although it is our conclusion ( based on the data in Chapter Nine) that official cases—whether arrest, physical or mental ill health, or school problems—register very few among drug-experienced youngsters, perhaps only one in a thousand. These official statistics (when the records are adequate enough to produce statistics, which is rare) reflect a lag to such a considerable extent that the curve of either health or arrest cases rises much more slowly than the curve of experimentation and regular use. This impression, if correct, suggests an interesting area of inquiry for drug epidemiology. At the very least, the lag represents the response time of society—and its official agencies—in becoming aware of a problem and in marshaling forces to handle it. The lag, no doubt, also reflects the development of discretion among adults and students as they engage in illicit behavior. It is quite possible, too, that the lag in official cases and the underreporting of them —whether cases of use or of bad results—reflects an uncertainty on the part of the community as to the kind of "problem" definition to be made, that definition, in turn, determining official response. Most adults are not eager for massive police action to invest campuses so that hundreds of thousands of their sons and daughters would be arrested. Most universities must ignore discrete illicit-drug use on campus or be forced into painful policing of the sort which would arouse new antagonism between students and authorities and which would, if it were to result in arrest of all students actually using such drugs, cut campus populations—at least in some areas—in half. The absence of official medical cases is another matter, one which may be taken either to demonstrate the relative nonseverity of most bad reactions—a reasonable conclusion—or to indicate the reluctance of students to expose themselves to identification by authorities by appearing for help. The latter problem is well known to college health authorities and has in some cases resulted in policy statements guaranteeing confidentiality for student drug users, in spite of the demands of other governmental agencies that no such confidentiality be accorded. One thing does seem clear—whether we discuss LSD bad trips or simply alcohol-induced illness—most students endure their ill effects and have devised informal procedures—including the nonmedical administration of drug antagonists or other relieving agents—so that, as in other folk medical practice, they take care of themselves and one another without calling for a physician. We would expect that such sophistication is related to maturity and social class; as illicit-drug use continues to extend to high school or elementary school students, these students will be less able to care for their own bad reactions and less able, as well, to seek competent professional help on their own. Furthermore, one anticipates, although at present without evidence, that younger students will subject themselves to greater risk because of not having sophisticated guidelines to use in choosing drugs with which to experiment or in selecting drug sources of reasonable reliability. There is also the strong possibility that younger students as a group will be less able to handle the emotional concomitants of strong psychoactive drugs, whether those emotions are direct drug effects or are reactions to the organic changes so induced—including, of course, emotions of guilt and anxiety which are likely to surround their involvement in behavior that is illicit and novel and may be associated with taboo impulse release. What we are suggesting is that as illicit-drug use becomes more common at high, junior high, and elementary school levels and as marijuana experimentation is replaced with trials of stronger substances such as LSD, STP, heroin and the like, the number of cases coming to official attention will increase. Anticipating this, health professionals and school administrative and counseling personnel would be well advised to be ready with modes of response. The police and the courts have the same problem and while, at the moment, drug cases are being processed routinely, it is evident that if arrests increase still further, both the courts and the correctional facilities will be taxed beyond their capacities. Police narcotic squads are already in this position, although they are in a better position to control their work loads.

A number of reactions to expanded youthful drug use and to added official case loads are occurring. They are paradoxical ones for, simultaneously, loosening and tightening, harshness and gentleness are under way. Proposals for changes in the federal law, for example, include adding felony penalties for possession of dangerous drugs, such as LSD and the like. At the same time, proposals in various states ( California, Colorado) have been made for making punishments, especially marijuana penalties, considerably lighter and allowing judges more discretion in sentencing. Another widespread reaction has been in the field of education, where programs designed to reduce the amount of drug use have begun. One approach emphasizes scare tactics and biased information; another, free and open fact giving. In neither case does one know whether student behavior will be affected and, if so, in what direction. The reaction of health professionals seems to be more consistent and has been primarily in the direction of establishing new centers or facilities for treating drug users not only for bad trips as such but for both underlying psychiatric disorders and physical illnesses which may attend their life styles. Even here, response is not uniform, for one finds some public- or school-health authorities responding with heavy disapproval and recommendations for punitive action rather than health care. The latter is more desirable when evaluated by humane standards; however, one must confess that the evidence is wanting which would show that current programs for treating drug abuse medically or psychologically do in fact help, and there is even doubt whether the treatment of acute physical illness among persons continually re-exposing themselves to such illness (venereal disease, hepatitis, injection infections, upper respiratory ailments, nutritional deficit, and so on) is the most efficient health endeavor, although none challenges the goodness of a healing effort as such.

The drug use at which we have been looking is a middle- and upper-class practice. For the most part, the high school data reported here have also been drawn from middle- or upper-class schools. Although lower-class heroin use among youngsters is described in other excellent studies (Chein, Gerard, Lee, and Rosenfeld, 1964; Robins, 1966; Gordon, Short, Cartwright, and Strodtbeck, 1963, etc.; see Chapter One), we are unaware—with the possible exception of the Blumer study (1967), which does not specify neighborhood or class variables —of -the changes occurring among lower-class elementary and high school students in their drug use. Investigators in New York City are gathering data, as are a number of others in East Coast centers. There have been preliminary reports of slum users' opposition to LSD—for example, that it is not their kind of drug; on the other hand, with the difficulty in obtaining good-quality heroin, the publicity for hallucinogens, and the increasing illicit traffic in methamphetamine especially, one anticipates that lower-class use will gradually alter itself by expanding to meet these new "opportunities." Simultaneously, we see the growth of heroin interest in the middle and upper class, as well as among hippies—despite initial denial of interest in drugs with a bad reputation—so that a certain homogeneity in the diversity of use is to be expected in the coming years. The old accepted drugs, of course, will stay in the picture (alcohol, tobacco, barbiturates, and the like), although one notes—and we shall come to this again shortly—an apparent lack of interest among many college students in tobacco use. Recall that over half of the total student population do not intend to smoke tobacco (Chapter Seven).

Beginning with our LSD studies as reported in Utopiates (Blum and Associates, 1964 ) and continuing with the college studies reported here, we have found that the "pioneers" or leaders in introducing the middle and upper classes to the exotic drugs have been intellectuals, artists, and professionals, especially those in the sciences of the mind. At the student level, their counterparts who initiate drug use have been primarily those students who, like the adults studied in Utopiates, are secure by reason of wealth, are white Anglo-Saxon, have Protestant backgrounds, and are also more free of convention and attentive to matters of adjustment, mind, aesthetics, and social philosophy—these latter quite probably part of a heritage of elite family values. These individuals are friends and teachers to the other students.

Socioeconomic position and vocational interest, along with family background, are obviously important characteristics or preconditions for belonging to that class of students from which the drug explorers are drawn. So, too, is individual personality, for as was shown in Chapter Fourteen, the more mind-interested, feeling-oriented, aesthetic, and adventuresome students—who have less regard for rules or the feelings or rights of others—are the most drawn to the kind of illicit-drug use taking place on campus. In addition, we infer from the clinical data that historical within-family differences contribute a great deal families with greater divergency of opinion, more distant relationships to the children, and more unresolved parent-child interpersonal crises seem to be those which generate the drug explorers. However, social background, personality, and within-family styles of parent-child interaction are not the only important contributors to the drug-exploring student; this constellation can be supplemented by a long list of other life-history behavior items—as set forth in earlier chapters—each one of which can become a predictor of illicit-drug use. Recall just a few of the consistent items: family mobility, disagreement with parents on topical issues, dissatisfaction with school, career pessimism, drop-out history, early gratifications from being ill, and early eating problems. Yet, for actual drug use to occur, still other conditions must be met. The initiate must ordinarily be informed enough about a drug to believe it to be safe and worth while—that is, his expectations about a positive outcome must outweigh the risk of a negative one, although the element of risk is itself attractive to adventuresome young people. The initiate must feel reasonably secure about the situation in which he takes a drug; indeed, part of the teaching of use is to give assurances about freedom from risk of arrest and to show how discretion may be used. That information may, of course, be incorrect, but our student informants stress that they do not begin use unless they believe they are safe. Such teaching of expectations about drugs is offered daily by the mass media as these arouse interest in the various illicit-exotic compounds; however, probably much more specific teaching is conducted in those small groups which form and become the nexus required for social drug use. At this point we see that a necessary situational condition is the presence of others who, by example or persuasion, show how it is done and why it should be done. These others must also provide the sine qua non—that is, the supply of drugs to be taken and, if use is to continue, instruction in where further drugs may be procured.

The critical importance of exposure to such initiators introduces the role which accident can play. Even if we presume that people do tend to seek out others with similar interests and that these interests then draw them closer together—as, for example, humanities majors meeting each other in classes and clubs which facilitate drug learning among the newcomers—we also believe that accidental contact plays a role. Our students tell us how—as they moved from one university residence unit to another—they came in contact for the first time with users, how simple proximity allowed them to see marijuana use and lean) it was safe, and how they then sought acceptance or were sought after by proselytizers until their own initiation took place. We have also seen (see Chapter Sixteen) how the drug habits of friends and respected campus leaders contribute to the likelihood of a student's using or not using drugs. We do not argue that friendship choices are without psychological significance in themselves. Our point is that the pre-existing drug scene within a residence unit may make a difference to a newcomer in whether or not he learns about drug use from people whose opinions, esteem, and conduct do matter to him.

As we have tried to emphasize throughout, as an unusual form of conduct is adopted by more and more people, one must expect that the unusual characteristics which describe the pioneers and explorers will no longer discriminate between users and non-users. In the case of metropolitan campuses, where we now have evidence that in some schools the majority have tried marijuana, the label of "unusual" falls more and more on the non-user. As we have observed among our abstainers (Chapter Three), such aloofness in a predominantly drug-using culture is hard to maintain, so that over the college years, the abstainers become at least users of approved drugs. Now that marijuana has become an "approved" drug by the standards of the majority of students (and an unknown but probably large portion of some faculties as well), one must expect that even the upright will succumb to social pressures and personal titillation, so that someday most students in most places will have had marijuana experience. We shall not make such a prediction for the more potent drugs of worse repute; while more students are trying them, it is our impression that widespread knowledge of dangers and risks does make a difference and that most students at the college level will refrain from the use of LSD, heroin, and methamphetamine. We are less sanguine about the high school level.

We may conceive of the foregoing circumstances that contribute to illicit-drug use as a set of vectors such as proposed in the scheme below.

The scheme below leaves out a very important set of variables, those associated with drug effects themselves. Conceivably, the use of a placebo could take place in response to these vectors; indeed, analysis of some of the materials taken by students in the belief that they were psychoactive shows that sometimes they have been taking placebos being sold as marijuana or LSD. Yet we cannot assume that the mind so lacks reflection on internal states or that experience sustains itself on symbols alone; thus, one must look to the drugs themselves and, in their administration, to the felt consequences. This is not the place to offer a discussion of the range of effects of the various classes of psychoactive drugs—or of the difficulties in discriminating between specific and nonspecific effects. However, it is the place to remind ourselves that whatever the symbolic value of various protest drugs, the effects are real and it is the effects that are sought upon repeated administration. One is not to assume that the effects of a single drug are the same on different people or that they are the same on one person given their use over time; differences in effects must especially be anticipated when dosage differs, when the mental and physical conditions of persons differ, when other drugs are present or absent in the body, when the intervals between use differ, or when the means of taking the drug differ. Even so, it has been amply demonstrated that at least some people receive a drug and say they like it sufficiently to want to take it again. "Liking" is an ambiguous term often enough and we would not wish to become involved in the painful psychological arguments about reward, reinforcement, or even pleasure. Whatever is going on, the person says he likes the drug effect and he acts as though that was the case by going on to take more. But we know that in the case of the illicit-exotic drugs—at least to date—most of the students who experiment with them do not become regular users. This brings us to a concern with differences between those who continue to use drugs and those who stop using them. In our earlier study of LSD users (Blum and Associates, 1964), it was apparent that matters of personality and of life orientation contributed to this discrimination when age, sex, and occupational status were controlled. In the present study when intensive and less intensive users were compared, we had no personality data; there we could see that a variety of factors were in operation, including parental drug-use habits, student ideology and dissatisfactions, and the like. Again, these are external descriptors and do not tell us how different students experienced the drugs taken either in terms of specific effects or in nonspecific ones, including the meanings attached to the experience. Why, for example, do half of those who have tried tranquilizers and a minority of those who use narcotics not intend to use these drugs again, whereas the majority who have used alcohol and marijuana intend to do so? Beecher (1959 ) gives strong clues for one drug, morphine: most normal individuals given this narcotic do not enjoy it; only 10 per cent of his population reported euphoria instead of dysphoria.

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In the case of marijuana, which is the most popular of the psychoactive illicit drugs on campus, we make some presumptions about popularity that are linked to the drug's effects. For one thing, we believe most students when they say that they expected it to be fun; even if it led to nothing on the first round or two, some had been "taught" to continue use until they were convinced either that it was "groovy" or that, for them, it was nothing. For many students marijuana apparently works—that is, they experience a state which they say they like and want to repeat. This in itself accounts only in part for its popularity. Consider how it is used. Only marijuana among the illicit drugs is smoked (excluding opium, which is gaining in popularity). When tobacco smoking was introduced into Europe, it became epidemic and within a hundred years or so almost every society around the world had adopted it (see Chapter Five in Drugs I). Smoking was something special, and while tobacco was highly desired and today remains probably the most popular addiction in the world, other drugs could be substituted for it. Opium, hashish, and datura, for example, were put in the pipe or in cigarette papers and smoked—a habit continuing to this day. The values of smoking are several. For one thing, absorption of the drug is immediate and effects are felt rapidly. Dosage is visibly controllable; one can inspect the contents and be reasonably sure what they are (notwithstanding naive students who smoke field grass or oregano instead) ; one can choose to smoke as much as one wants; and for the mild drugs, such as tobacco and today's collegiate marijuana, the effects are not long enduring. Contrast that to the invisible contents of a pill, which, once ingested, cannot be retrieved and whose effects—whether sedative or hallucinogenic—may be felt for many hours. In our conversations with students, they have emphasized how important it is to be able to control dosage in this fashion. Smoking has another strong attraction, although it is difficult to identify in terms explicit enough for the meticulous. "Oral gratification" is what the psychoanalysts say; it means that people enjoy putting things into their mouths and—from nipples to fingers to chewing gum and cigarettes—mouthing them, sucking them, and returning for more. We believe that the oral-gratification component of marijuana smoking is one of its appeals.

For anyone who has smoked tobacco, it is easy to transfer the smoking habit to marijuana; once a method for administering one drug is learned, substitution of another drug easily follows. In our survey data; we have no test for the easy hypothesis that tobacco smoking is a helpful precondition for marijuana use. The data support such an inference, but not critically. On shakier but, in some ways, more satisfying impressionist grounds, we have interviewed nonsmokers who have volunteered that they hesitated to begin marijuana smoking because they did not like smoking as such. We have also interviewed students who were nonsmokers and who rejected marijuana on these grounds until someone came along to tell them that marijuana, or hashish, can be cooked and ingested—the famous recipe for brownies then being put to use. One girl, relating how she had done this, complained about the disadvantages; not knowing the dosage, she had ground up "a lot" of hashish, cooked, and eaten it and, in consequence, said she was "high" and sometimes hallucinating for five hours and had but the dimmest memories of the twenty-four hours following this episode, a fitful period in which she had slept and wandered about.

The substitution of marijuana for tobacco is not only easy, but there are strong reasons for doing this, or so the students say. For the last five or ten years, there has been a strong campaign to educate the public to the dangers of cigarette smoking. Students know it is linked to cancer and they know it is an addictive drug. The students have grown up amidst public health warnings announcing that danger. We believe they have responded. Consider, for example, data from Chapter Seven showing that fewer students than their parents are smoking or intend to smoke. Students can respond to warnings about specific drugs if, as a critical audience, they believe these are scientifically sound. Yet if we grant a culture of smoking around them, their own early experience with parents who smoke, and the satisfactions to be derived from oral gratification, then we must expect a strong set of forces to be contributing to the desire to smoke. Presto, tobacco is eliminated because it is unsafe, and a new drug, marijuana, believed not to be addictive and not to cause cancer, is substituted, with the additional advantages that its dosage can be controlled by smoking and its effects can be realized immediately by this method. Grant further that marijuana does, in fact, please many of the persons who try it and that, indeed, for some it is a very pleasant drug, then a compelling set of reasons for use are present.

There are two other sets of reasons to be considered as well. One has to do with alcohol, whose benefits are well documented ( Leake and Silverman, 1966 ) if the reader needs such literature for proof. The students say alcohol has three disadvantages: its effects are long lasting, it is expensive, and it produces a hang-over. Marijuana, they say, is quicker acting, even at illicit prices costs less to produce equivalent effects, and, best of all, provides no hang-over. The arguments are set forth with conviction. They do not mention the faddish feature that alcohol is "old hat," while pot is associated with the exclusive modernity belonging to youth.

The other set of reasons concern the symbolic value of marijuana or any other illicit substance. We shall not dwell at length on this point simply because so many public discussions have done so. Briefly, the proposition is that marijuana, LSD, or other substances can serve as symbols which help make groups cohesive. When the groups are composed of youngsters simultaneously thumbing their noses at authority and eager to have their own way while, at the same time, planning, for the most part, to join the Establishment to work for a living, then the action must be concealed to avoid painful criminal sentences. We (Blum and Associates, 1964 ) earlier called it the "cool rebellion." As events from 1964 to date have shown, the student rebellion is not as cool as it was before; simultaneously, drug use is not only more extensive but it is more visible. We take it that these two phenomena are not unrelated and that secret nose thumbing is being replaced, at least by the anarchists and activists, by active disobedience to a variety of rules and laws—those violations reflecting anything from moral fervor and the doctrine of civil disobedience to provocations to violent revolution. Whatever the ideological component, we may be sure that diverse individual feelings and needs are being expressed. In any event, the climate of civil disobedience, the availability of a set of moral justifications for active violation of law, and the apparent inequities of present drug penalties, which provide up to the death penalty for marijuana offenses, combine to give a sense of righteousness to the drug user on campus. Yet with all the provocation and violation of law, we must not overlook that illicit-drug use on campus is not only attractive—for the foregoing reasons and probably many more besides—but is safe. Recall from Chapter Nine that few had enduring ill effects, that even fewer were disciplined by school authorities, and that still fewer suffered arrest. For all the inadequacy of police and school records, it is clear, for example, that of an estimated five thousand students at School I who have tried marijuana, no more than ten have been arrested for it and probably no more than five. To our knowledge none of these has served time, all having been released on probation or having managed to get their cases off the docket. What this implies is that for all the audacity, derring-do, and provocation that illicit-drug use signifies, the practice is not one designed to produce martyrs; rather, the students make realistic estimates of risk and enjoy nearly complete safety in the process of being unlawful. What additional psychological functions such controlled risk may have, beyond adventure and bon-vivant conspiracy, we leave to others for speculation.

At this point any further explorations into motives—beyond those already given by students or deduced by the many scholars writing in the field—are not fruitful. We believe that the social and epidemiological data, combined with psychological test data and observations, have been consistent over a variety of studies and speak for themselves. We should now, therefore, like to comment on points which we believe have been underemphasized so far, either because the inferences have not been made clearly enough from our data or because our statistics speak too strongly and require qualification.

With regard to the latter, there are two areas of inference which have been stressed within the preceding chapters and which, nevertheless, leave us with a sense of worry or dissatisfaction. The first concerns the characteristics of students in the illicit drug-using groups, especially in the intensive-using groups. Throughout, we have seen that the drug innovators and the intensive student users in the sample have appeared not only as change oriented and more removed from family closeness but more dissatisfied and pessimistic. These latter attributes require qualification, for the dissatisfaction and pessimism we have seen is not, except in rare cases, of the depressed and aimless variety that characterized Keniston's (1965) uncommitted, alienated clinical qample; rather, their expressed dissatisfaction indicates, we believe, an awareness of discrepancy between ideals and reality, between what they personally want to enjoy and what they must put up with, and perhaps, too, a need to gripe, which is fashionable for their age and station. There are a dozen ways to interpret what the student dissatisfaction may imply: restlessness and impatience; self-indulgence, vanity, and intolerance; hope and dedicated activity; and so forth. These terms reflect the prejudices and orientation to youth and life of the observer as much as the traits of the students. In any event, the drug users in our sample should not be viewed as people in despair or as undergoing acute psychological distress; their own words expressing dissatisfaction can hint at appreciation of much that is good and gratifying about the world—only they want more or better—whereas their pessimism can conceal much confidence about themselves, their own safety and sense, and the righteousness of their standards and deeds.

Perhaps the above can best be demonstrated by letting one drug-using student speak for himself. We have quoted but little from the students and now in doing so, we do not contend that a single student speaks for all who embrace the drug ideology. Nevertheless, we consider the following remarks—written as a term paper in response to our question to a seminar—as illuminating of one important point of view.

"Why must students use drugs?" says the blinder-wearing public, barely aware of its own hideous hypocrisy. For a people who embrace not only alcohol but war, the Holy Profit, and social injustice (and all in the name of some higher good) such moral indignation is ludicrous. Disgust at society's "phoniness" may encourage the use of drugs not only as a protest, but as an affirmation that there is a "better way," and that drugs can indeed be beneficial in helping society attain its ideals. The student becomes quietly '(or violently) outraged when he realizes how leaders misuse America's potential. The harsh juxtaposition of an iniquitous society led by leaders of "menopausal mentality" . . . the System's evinced inhumanity—its failure to recognize people as human beings—is the prime enemy of the student and the bloodc.lot in the lifestream of America that he hopes and thinks can be dissolved through the constructive use of drugs. Expectantly, there is a tumultuous din from the vested interests who profit from that inhumanity and who sense that their reins might slip from their hands.

As society tumbles blindly from one day to the next, its college campuses are becoming testing grounds for the use of drugs and their effects on personal and personality development. Students are now experimenting with drugs the same way they are experimenting with life: they are looking for personal truth through their own experience. Students are interested mostly in hallucinogenic drugs and are wary of the dangers of drug abuse. Significantly, while hedonism may be connected with some drug use, there is little campus use of drugs to eliminate consciousness or to stay in a -state of oblivion, both very asocial, "anti-life" (and therefore highly disesteemed) acts.

For me, as for many others, the primary cause for "turning on" is a curiosity that encompasses a longing for knowledge of an idealized "other world," '(and thus a romantic escapism), and the sheer intellectual desire to experience and know new things. This insatiable curiosity for knowledge and experience, the type of curiosity that all good universities ideally hope to instill, is fired by reports of experimenting friends, and by the relentless drive to seek and establish a satisfactory identity, as well as to find meaning in the world. Hallucinogens, for example, offer one new experiences that can be valuable in a search for Existential Truth, and Ultimate Meaning.

The search for Meaning is extremely salient for the probing student. The student may be proud of his secure feelings of superiority and of joining the ranks of Nietzsche, Socrates, and other "liberated" men. But he might also feel a terrible emptiness because he now sees no easy "Answer" to replace the ersatz security previously provided by the smothering, mothering blankets of culture and religion. He is thus launched on his Existential Search and may resort to grass and other hallucinogens to see what they have to offer.

On another level, after one's initial curiosity about grass is satisfied, grass then takes on the role of being the social medium that provides an initial common bond among a group. Further, grass replaces alcohol and accordingly changes the very nature of social events. People's awareness of themselves, their roles, and other people is increased and the common conscious perception of that increased awareness becomes the basic tenet regulating intergroup action and communication. Thus, more maturity of thought and action is demanded, as opposed to the lessened need for maturity in the mind-dulling atmosphere of alcohol gatherings. This, then, becomes the major appeal of grass among sensitive students—grass effects a situation that is commensurate to the state of "honesty" and "naturalness" (i.e. facadelessness) that such students think appropriate to engender meaningful dialogue. Hypocrisy and phoniness become very obvious, and as people recognize these faults in themselves as well as in others, they succeed in gaining greater self-knowledge and self-mastery.

Continued use of grass and hallucinogens increases this self-knowledge and can lead to an overall greater maturity. As a person knows more about himself he is better able to decide what to do with his life and how to do it. His drug experience also has given him an increased knowledge and enjoyment of his natural as well as his social environment. He can now appreciate things more than ever before because having seen everything from a different Tierspective under the influence of drugs, he acquires a new sensitivity for the "realness" and "wonderfulness" of things. He is less dulled to the world. He is also less dulled to other people and recognizes them as noble creatures no less real than himself.

Students see hallucinogenic drugs, in their ability to lead one to serious introspection of himself and of his relationship to other human beings, as one elixir that may return sanity to the world, and effectively "humanize" the Establishment by causing the rearrangement of national priorities. This is the hope and the noble enterprise that is pursued and esteemed by today's idealistic, sensitive, and curious college youth. Society, then, need not be completely distraught over their experimenting students. A greater understanding of what it is to be a human being is the best "minor" any student can take out of a university, and that greater understanding has substantial influence in the youthful push for social renovation and revolution.

In appraising these students, we find that a curious scientific problem arises, for the interests of the liberal students who are the drug explorers and innovators are close in kind to the interests of manyn social scientists, psychiatrists, and school administrators. That corre-
spondence of views is not derived simply from the Strong Test scores of Chapter Sixteen but is also apparent when values are compared.

The importance of adjustment, of curiosity, of social criticism, and of "progressive" sociopolitical doctrine, as well as an emphasis on aesthetics, on finding one's "identity," on spontaneity in relationships, and on being antagonistic toward traditional authority, are likely to be found in the social sciences and mind-studying trades, or espoused by their members, as well as by the liberal students. Consequently, when these scientists and clinicians undertake to evaluate today's left and/or drug-using students, they are often looking at people much like themselves. Indeed, if we recall the early attraction of exotic drugs for some of these professionals—a few of whom became leaders in the drug movement of the early 1960's—we see that drug interests as well as general orientation may be held in common. We recall from Utopiates that our interviewers, themselves psychologists for the most part, rated LSD users as being more likeable than the matched controls. The interviewers said the professionals who were LSD aficionados were more relaxed, appeared warmer and more open-minded, and enjoyed the interview and its mind explorations more. These "liking" reactions probably reflect preferences for people acting more as these interviewers thought people ought to act. Now, as scholars approach students, one wonders whether the same process may not be repeating itself: investigators seeking out subjects whose values are attractive and enjoying their company because they do appear warm, thoughtful, questioning, and exciting. The danger is that the evaluation may be positive only because of the charm of the young people without the investigators' recognizing the grounds for their reactions and without coming to grips with either fundaments or implications of student behavior. We are posing the problem of investigator identification with his subjects, of "countertransference," in which it may be—as some of the students contend—that the young are admired because they act out the fantasies of their frustrated elders. The corollary danger is also acute and is commonplace. When conservative people offer their more negative evaluations of the pot-smoking or radical students, many university and professionally based people reject outright what the "reactionaries" have to say. These two sets of bias, with their concomitant rejections of each side by the other, set the stage for the kind of nonconstructive, noncommunicating emotional standoffs that we saw in the views of narcotics officers and intellectuals contrasted in Utopiates, between liberal and conservative legislators examined in Chapter Thirteen in Drugs I, and in the contradictory directions of responses in legislation, education, and health care commented upon in an early paragraph.

Another point on which we feel dissatisfied and which is derived from our data concerns reports of ill effects from drug use. It is clear from Chapter Nine that a variety of unpleasant outcomes can occur but one gets the impression that very few suffer anything damaging over the long run. Thus, one can conclude, as we do, that anything but acute toxic ill effects are unlikely and that illicit-exotic drugs when used as students are now doing, for the most part, do not seem to pose serious hazards to school performance or to health. What hazards of drug dependency as such are incurred are unknown. We must not forget that in each sample of intensive users (including alcohol and tobacco!) there were students who were really worried about their becoming or being drug dependent. ( See a similar finding in our normal-population study in Chapter Eleven in Drugs I.) Whether they were simply anxious or realistically at risk, we do not know; we fear it was the latter. What must be stressed is that the students in our sample were those still in school after taking drugs, so that not only are they a selected group of persevering young people but the ones still futictioning well. We have no idea how many have suffered ill effects and have left school; we have no idea about long-range bad results of the gradual sort that alter personality adversely or produce dependency yet are not recognized by students in their self-reporting as undesirable. We faced the same problem in Utopiates when continued users said of themselves that they were better people than ever and felt just fine, whereas for 10 per cent of these users family, employers, or friends said they had gone downhill. Not only are our standards for judging long-term personality and social change unclear and themselves emotionally laden but the methods of this present study have not allowed any assessment of adverse effects not recognized and reported by students. Paulsen's (see Chapter Seventeen) psychiatric observations are an exception. At this point, we feel very uncomfortable with what we know about long-range ill effects.

As to points underemphasized, the first is that the etiology of drug use appears to be in no way unique as far as the development of human social behavior is concerned. Davies (1963 in an excellent synthesis of the literature, reviews the forces that contribute to the development of political beliefs. Drug use shares with political beliefs--and, no doubt, with many other aspects of opinion and conduct—an etiology well known to social scientists. Our schematic diagram could be, with a few word substitutions, applied to a host of belief and conduct systems in mankind. Culture, family, institutional exposures, primary-group membership, personal idiosyncrasies, accident of birth and place—these are the typical abstractions for the sets of forces which influence human beings. Now that student drug use is becoming a common activity, it too can be seen to be shaped by common determinants. On the other hand, as with other special ideologies or unusual conduct forms, the outward similarities that people share conceal private meanings. Common social pathways are always utilized for individual—including psychopathological—needs. Illicit student drug use appears to be a remarkable phenomenon simply because it is a novel one, and while it is important to individuals engaging in it because it does have significance in their lives, yet—viewed either socially or pharmacologically—many of the events involved are ones well known in science—or in common sense—and the determinants are also found to be of an ordinary order of magnitude.

Not only can we identify student drug use as but one of the many things human beings do which have classes of determinants in common—none of which are bizarre—but we can point out that student drug use is intertwined with other aspects of his life and person. We tried to make that clear in our introductory chapter and again in the ideologies discussion, but fear the point was understated. The student who is using drugs is not ordinarily engaged in a random act or in one which is out of keeping with his character and circumstances. Drug initiation and use, however "strange" they seem to outsiders or "not like him" to parents, is very much like him after all, for it is in keeping with his social, psychological, and physiological apparatus. If it doesn't "fit" him, he will stop; otherwise, we may presume that his continued drug use serves a variety of functions at many levels. The more daring the deed in terms of social attitudes and the more daring the drug in terms of biochemical effects, the more significance it is likely to have both as symptom and as sign; however, the more common drug use becomes, the less significance it will have to students and the less it will stand out as an item which discriminates between classes of persons. Whether exotic-drug use remains noticeable for that large portion of society residing off campus will depend on how we respond as a society to the phenomenon facing us. That social response depends on a variety of emotional, political, and practical considerations.

Certainly, there are some major influences on the response of society to expanded exotic-drug use which have yet to come into play—and cannot come into play until an assessment is made of the impact which the new ideology has on interpersonal relations and until the longer-range specific effects on persons of a variety of new psychoactive agents are better known. Until that time, most of us place our bets on generalizing from principles we already accept but which we cannot yet be sure apply to what is happening now.

Implicit in much that we have said is the prediction that student drug use will continue to expand and that as these students grow older, many forms of drug use now considered deviant or dangerous will become part of what otherwise-respectable adults do. Whether or not marijuana and LSD use remains illegal or as severely punishable will make quite a difference in how these adults use their drugs—in secrecy or openly. It will also make a difference in the absolute number of young recruits and in the number of aging students willing to spend the effort involved in illicit procurement and discreet use as they continue into mature years, where many other demands are mAde on energy and where illicit conduct loses some of its romance and adventure. This prediction assumes that the illicit-drug users on campus today are the generators of new ideas and the adopters of new ways of life and that they will serve as leaders in a change-oriented society which is constantly looking for adjustment, pleasure, and personal enrichment. Unless a very considerable political reaction of a conservative sort takes place, it is very unlikely that this ordinary American process of seeking and changing, which emanates from universities and the centers of power to which university graduates go, would be impeded. The gradualist assumption is that laws and law enforcement will be liberalized to accommodate the new social reality. The agnostic alternative is that traditional forces will not give way, especially because of the link between student drug use, on the one hand, and left-wing politics, on the other. If that proves to be the case, one must expect an intensification of conflict between the left and the right, an exaggeration of repression and rebellion, in which drugs would be but a small issue compared with the overwhelming intensity of conflict between associated social and political forces. The American scene today clearly reveals these antagonistic forces. The pessimists on either side will predict that the opposition—whether left or right—will triumph and ruin will reign. Those in the larger American tradition-which we interpret as one of gradual change through compromise and of conflict fragmented by interest groups rather than as being consolidated into monolithic confrontation—will be optimistic. They will trust that sufficient rationality and self-interest exist to allow individuals to rule out for themselves drugs whose effects are damaging. They will trust that sufficient orderliness remains so that the community—including the government—will continue to exercise control over the distribution of drugs with demonstrable damaging potentials and control over persons either suffering or visiting damage in association with psychoactive-drug use. They will trust that sufficient respect for freedom and humanism will prevail to allow individuals to go their own ways pursuing whatever conduct they will as long as it brings little harm, even if it brings little gain. They will remain tolerant of human diversity and sanguine about youthful resilience and will not hurry to condemn or to praise that which appears on the surface as long as they do not know what lies beneath or is signified in the future. Finally, they will, when in doubt and even if in anguish, take time to respect one another and to talk things over in order to come to common solutions, acting in concert rather than in opposition whenever possible. These are the things the optimists will do. If there are enough optimists in America, the fear and the fighting about student drug use will happily diminish in the coming years.

 

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

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