Established 1826 — Oldest College Newspaper West of the Alleghenies

Cocaine deaths bring hard drug use into necessary light

Yesterday, the Oxford Police Department released a warning to residents about a possible "particularly dangerous" batch of cocaine out on the streets. This announcement comes in the wake of the deaths of two non-student residents of Oxford, a man and a woman both in their twenties, found dead on Saturday. The exact cause of death, police said, will not be determined for several weeks until the toxicology tests come back, but cocaine use is suspected cause in both cases.

At a school where substance abuse has been the talk of the town for the past few weeks, this development is a sobering reminder that these issues literally mean life or death. While the main focus of community discussion has been alcohol, the issue of other illegal drug use, particularly that of hard drugs, cannot be swept under the rug and forgotten.

In Opinion Editor Angela Hatcher's column in the last issue of The Miami Student, she faced a question from a student about experimenting with cocaine. Retreating from her normal laid-back style of advice giving, Hatcher condemned use of the drug, telling her own painful story of watching a significant other become addicted and saying plainly, "If you make the choice to do cocaine, I hope you do so responsibly, but I truly feel that there's no way to do coke responsibly."

The National Institute on Drug Abuse lists the following as potential long term effects of cocaine use: "loss of sense of smell, nosebleeds, nasal damage and trouble swallowing from snorting; infection and death of bowel tissue from decreased blood flow; poor nutrition and weight loss from decreased appetite."

Additionally, there is a significant chance of overdose stemming from cocaine use that includes the risk of heart-attack, stroke, seizure and coma in the short term. Overdose threats increase significantly with the combination of alcohol use along with cocaine.

The facts and the anecdotes tell the same story: cocaine is an incredibly dangerous drug that has the potential to ruin, and even end, lives. And remember, these facts don't even reflect the present threat of a "particularly dangerous" batch that police say may be present in Oxford.

This generation of students has been through many years of anti-drug use campaigns and anti-abuse messages from parents, schools and all sorts of other media. However, when you get to college, it can be hard to distinguish between what can seem like casual and moderate substance use and something that is ruining people's lives. All that can be asked of students and other young adults is that they think hard about any situation involving drugs and all the risk factors that go along with using any particular drug. The events of this past weekend exist in tandem with other cycles of abuse within our region, from alcohol abuse here at Miami that has caused a death this semester, to heroin outbreaks that still threaten communities across Ohio and other similar states.

All these factors demand consideration from everyone in the community, and there is only so much that law enforcement and the student newspaper can do and say.

With that being said, though, if you or anyone you know has problems with substance abuse, know that Student Counseling Services offers substance use assessments in which they work with students to resolve the issues surrounding any and all of the above. For those scared of facing discipline from the school, as Miami's website says, "The recommendations resulting from the substance use assessment are strictly confidential and not a part of the student's academic record."

Any student who voluntarily requests a substance abuse evaluation from SCS can receive it for free. Students who are mandated by an external body, such as OESCR, have to pay a $250 fee, but in the grand scheme of things, that meeting may be a small price to pay. SCS can be reached at 513-529-4634.