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Drug Problem at Reed

emma111emma111 Registered User Posts: 38 Junior Member
edited May 2010 in Reed College
The post about the student who overdosed on hard drugs is only one reason some parents are reluctant to send their kids to Reed. They've also heard about suicides, the high stress environment, the high drop out and low graduation rate.
Post edited by emma111 on

Replies to: Drug Problem at Reed

  • TetraTetra Registered User Posts: 31 Junior Member
    This event is tragic, but it would be unfair (and incorrect) to generalize to a "drug problem" at Reed. This was the first time I'd heard about a student doing hard drugs, and that would have been sufficient to shock me by itself.

    I haven't heard of any suicides, and the article linked to on the post you refer to mentions that it's the first time a student has died on campus in 15 years (although I suppose it's possible there may have been a death off campus...?).

    On the other hand, I don't think many would dispute the high stress environment (and the effect it has on the drop out rate). The environment, though, is also very supportive, professors know you personally and will work with you. That being said, know what you're getting into.

    Most students I know find Reed to be a truly wonderful place.
  • TrinSFTrinSF Registered User Posts: 1,482 Senior Member
    I agree with Tetra. The death is very sad, but it's not somehow indicative of a terrible problem; it's the only death in more than 15 years. We cannot know what forces were acting on that student, if it was a preexisting addiction, if stress was involved, or anything else like that.

    I'm a parent with a freshman at Reed, and I don't regret encouraging him to attend. While he's sometimes felt stressed, he's also felt supported by his peers, his professors, and the administration.
  • emeraldkity4emeraldkity4 Registered User Posts: 35,861 Senior Member
    From what I have read, men and women in their early adult hood, have a disturbing rate of alcohol use, drug use, reckless & impulsive behavior .

    Reed college, does not attempt to be parents, the way that some institutions attempt to control behavior by adults that don't infringe on another's rights.

    When I heard about a freshman, having a glass of wine with dinner in the commons and not being hauled out, I wasn't surprised.

    I hear about other schools where students are expelled for going to the hospital to deal with overdose or depressive thoughts. Where other students are afraid to take their dormmates for help, because they don't want them to get " in trouble', where students are watched over by administration and staff- but because they haven't learned earlier to monitor their own behavior, as soon as ' the college' back is turned , they run hog wild.

    Higher Education Center: Alcohol and Other Drugs on Campus-The Scope of the Problem <meta name="keywords" content="binge drinking">
    Jeffrey Parsons, a professor of psychology at New York's Hunter College who focuses on drug and alcohol addiction, says some students go wild and act crazy as they enjoy freedoms allowed by parents and universities, who are pointing fingers at each other.

    Parents assume the colleges are enforcing drinking rules, he says, while school officials assume that parents have taught their children to behave responsibly.

    Students feel free to take huge risks, he says. "They're not in an environment where somebody is patrolling their behavior."

    I think it is telling that the student was new to the college.
    Students who get the ethos of Reed, of the honor code & responsible adult behavior, don't generally OD.

    My daughter did choose a subfree dorm freshman year ,she chose sub free, because she hoped that a dorm without substance use, ( she also comes from an alcoholic background & one reason why she chose Reed was that she wanted a school where alcohol use wasn't de rigueur )would be quieter, than one with freshmen who were excited mom and dad weren't around to tell them when to go to bed or what to have for breakfast, including beer.

    But as i have mentioned earlier, we live less than 200 miles away, we visited ( our whole family or just I and her sister who is 8 years younger), 4 or 5 times a year, including the beginning and end of the school year , since 2001.
    We have gotten to know the area, our daughter still lives in Portland & while I recognize there is a huge drug problem in Portland, especially meth, the side of Reed that I have seen has left me impressed with the intelligence and support of the community.
  • TrinSFTrinSF Registered User Posts: 1,482 Senior Member
    I think emeraldkity has excellent things to say about this.

    By the way, for those of you who have been accepted and have parents concerned about this, the Reed admissions office has a program where parents of current students provide contact information so that parents of accepted students can talk to a parent and ask questions. You probably got a letter about this recently, or you can call the admission office and they can give you some names. If your parents have concerns, or if you're a parent worried about this or anything else, I urge you to contact the admissions office and ask about that.

    They aren't special rah-rah parents or anything -- they ask everyone to participate. They're parents just like the ones on CC.
  • CrispinCrispin Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
    There is no "drug problem" at Reed. I transfered to Reed from a large university and honestly I don't think Reedies do any more drugs than students at most other schools. Because the school gives the students so much freedom, you'll see kids smoking pot out in public, whereas at other schools they do it hidden away in their dorm rooms - and this feeds the popular notion that Reed's full of drugs. But a large portion of the student body doesn't even smoke pot. I personally only smoked it only a few times there, as did a lot of my friends.

    I never saw hard drugs at Reed, and only knew of one guy who was rumored to do heroin. Other things - marijuana, psychedelics, various pills - were around, and there was a fair amount of experimentation. But if these are any more abundant at Reed than most other schools, it isn't by much.
  • laughablelaughable Registered User Posts: 8 New Member
    Most drug users, alcoholics, chronic depressives, those ridden with anxiety and insomnia, and a slew of other mental illnesses are highly intelligent. Reed attracts highly intelligent youth. Drug abuse and suicidal ideations are not unique to Reed in any way, except for the fact that a higher concentration of bright people challenging themselves intellectually is virtually guaranteed to produce an elevated number of substance-related difficulties.

    With this in mind, the support networks of the school are extraordinarily perceptive of the health issues facing such groups of students. Highly trained and extremely caring community members make the stressors of Reed bearable for the enormously vast majority of students. Beyond this, of course, a culture of self-responsibility encourages personal evaluation of the effects of one's behavior upon herself and her community.
  • merryechomerryecho Registered User Posts: 336 Member
    Just for the record, there have been 2 heroin deaths in 2 years at Reed. It seems there is an article or two every year in the Oregonian about hard drug use on the campus, and the unofficial policy of "don't ask don't tell". There are a number of other colleges in the area that are never mentioned as having a drug problem. So, either the local newspaper is terribly biased against Reed, or there is a part of the student population that does use heroin, meth and cocaine, the drugs the school says it is going to crack down on. It is something parents need to be aware of.
  • TrinSFTrinSF Registered User Posts: 1,482 Senior Member
    merryecho: I think it's 2 deaths in 3 years (or at least in 3 school years) because I remember Alex's death being during freshman year.

    Reed is more open about drugs, drug use, and talking about drug problems. And as a result, they are accused of having an out of control drug issue. As a parent, my concerns are much more about the willingness of the law enforcement community to use questionable tactics and threats towards a college and its students.
  • PeaPea Registered User Posts: 2,387 Senior Member
    Reed has been getting away with an overly permissive attitude towards drug use for a long time. I think that time is over and they are going to have to make some changes.
  • Paradox7Paradox7 Registered User Posts: 395 Member
    This is the most ridiculous step governmental agencies or Reed's administration could ever take. Thankfully Reedies won't be cowed down, and Renn Fayre will still be the celebration of the all the hard work that goes on the rest of the year. For those of you that say this is going to change Reed's culture or is a welcome step in that direction, I'd like point out that it's going to be much more of a detriment than of help. Reed's problems with drugs and especially at a festival like Renn Fayre should not be magnified by the two deaths that occured because a) they had nothing to do with Renn Fayre and b) these deaths could have likely occured on any other college campus; at least Alejandro's because he was an addict. Reed didn't help problems, but I don't think they can be blamed for either of these deaths.

    All the world loves to hate Reed though, this is nothing new and shall be forgotten once Renn Fayre is over.

    This is the most balanced piece I've read on the issue, however:

  • sunmachinesunmachine Registered User Posts: 824 Member
    Was Renn Fayre this weekend? How'd it go?
  • Paradox7Paradox7 Registered User Posts: 395 Member
    It was. Nothing out of the ordinary occured (yes, everyone was safe), from what I've been told. It was still a celebration-a double celebration, I'd say; for not only working so hard throughout the past year, but also proving all those who took digs at Reed and Renn Fayre for its "drug problem", wrong.
  • PlainsmanPlainsman Registered User Posts: 1,503 Senior Member
    Druggies are druggies, whether they go to Reed or the local community college. I've never understood why people use drugs. I used to think drug users were just plain stupid, but now I realize a certain recklessness could be responsible and that people from the mentally retarded to MENSA members could become users. I just don't get it. It still feels dumb. I mean, anyone could become depressed. Most people don't respond to depression by injecting themselves with heroin or sticking a gun in their mouths, which is basically the same thing only quicker.

    I feel sorry for these kids. They are obviously bright, but something in their brain isn't functioning correctly. I think colleges should have a zero tolerance policy for alcohol and drug abuse. I went through four years of college without touching a drop of alcohol or experimenting with any illegal substances. It seemed illogical to me (still does) how getting "stoned," or "bombed," or "wasted" somehow makes college or life better. And I had to work my way through a private university. My parents had no money and I didn't have any scholarships or grants. If anyone should've been depressed it should've been me. I hate to say this but I suspect a lot of college kids today, especially at elite schools, are simply spoiled. They are pampered, coddled, whatever, and "doing drugs" is part of some sort of rite of passage nonsense between summers abroad. Try working 40 hours a week on a midnight shift doing manual labor, while taking 15-18 credits per semester at a private college.
  • wlev1618wlev1618 Registered User Posts: 12 New Member
    Plainsman, there are a few things I'd like to point out. First of all, though much drug use stems from depression, not all does. Many intellectuals/writers/artists/musicians have used drugs throughout history to simply explore different perceptions of reality (which is no secret). I think many intelligent people (and not so intelligent people, to be fair) are curious about using substances that stimulate different parts of our brain and can open us up to new ideas, thoughts, or inspiration. I don't think someone's brain has to be functioning "not correctly" in order to be curious about drugs. There are many psychoactive drugs that are not detrimental to one's physical health when used properly (with moderation and research), and provide many with meaningful philosophical experiences. For example, Ayahuasca, a brew made from plants containing DMT, has long been used by shamans in South American culture in religious rituals and healing. I'm not an advocate of the whole "hey guys, I'm bored, let's go trip on acid!" sort of deal, but I think using hallucinogens (correctly) is a valid form of experimentation and I'd even go so far as to say recreation.

    I respect your strong principles. Your hard work to put yourself through college is certainly admirable. However, I will be attending Reed next year and I've already seen a lot of generalizations about "pampered, coddled, rich kids" at elite liberal arts schools, which bothers me. My parents have been saving up since I was born for enough money for my education, and I'll be receiving more than half of Reed's tuition through financial aid. I'll be working this summer and during the school year to make up for the rest of it. However, I still find time to research and experiment with drugs moderately. I also spend a lot of time in the reality we are all most familiar with, spending time with my friends and family, and hiking, reading, writing, listening to and making music: all the normal things that everyone does.

    Anyway. There's a lot more I could say about drugs use and the neurological impact of drugs on the human brain, but I'll save it for my thesis.
This discussion has been closed.