By Connor George; The Whetstone

The University of Delaware recently released two reports about drinking and drug abuse at the University of Delaware and at Wesley College.

According to the Wesley report, “Taking a Look at Wesley College Students: Data on Substance Use and Related Behaviors, 2019,” 33 percent of students reported using illegal drugs. The majority were also using alcohol, with less than 10 percent of students using illegal drugs.

A junior Wesley student said he used to drink and smoke marijuana practically each day for the past five months.

“I just got used to the way of how not being sober is,” he said. “It makes all of my problems go away.”

This student said he grew up in a rough environment, with a father who drank a lot and a mother who worked all the time.

“I never really saw my mom,” he said. “My dad had a drinking problem, but he would always make sure I was OK and doing well in school.”

He said he began drinking when he was 15, but it wasn’t heavy until he got to Wesley.

“I’m doing my best to stay sober,” he said. “I will have a couple drinks on the weekend and that’s OK. It’s really changed me. I feel more productive in my classes.”

Alcohol was the most abused substance, with 54% of students reporting drinking alcohol in the past month. Women (66%) were significantly more likely to report drinking in the past month than were men (47%). More than a quarter (28%) of students reported binge drinking five or more drinks in a single sitting during the past month. This applies to drinking in general. Drinking peaks in in junior year, with a slight drop among seniors.

The report also stated that past-month alcohol consumption was much more common among non-Hispanic Whites (70%) than it was for minority students in general (45%).

This is also true of binge drinking, with 41% of white students reporting binge drinking, and under one-third (28%) of students identifying with other races reported similar drinking.

More than half (54%) of students reported drinking alcohol in the past month; 66% of women were significantly more likely to report drinking in the past month than men. More than a quarter (28%) of students reported binge drinking five or more drinks in a single setting during the past month.

Drug and alcohol coordinator Latoya Anderson, who co-authored the Wesley study with six others from the University of Delaware, found that 27% of all students use drugs and alcohol. A major portion of those students, 88%, used marijuana. In the past month, 76% students reported drinking alcohol. Of the 76% of students who drank, more than half – men and women – (52%) binge drank.

According to Wesley Security Daily Crime Logs, there has not been any reported drug or medical emergency since Aug. 23.

The rates may vary when students are in a sorority or fraternity. Anderson found that 71% of members in a fraternity or sorority drank alcohol. Of those members, 54% binge drank.

“The drug I use the most would have to be alcohol,” a junior Wesley student said.

He said he has been drinking since 13, and didn’t start heavy drinking until 17.

“I would say it has changed my life,” he said. “More friends, more fun, but bad time management. While under the influence, I had sexual relations with someone I did not want to.”

UD’s David Borton, who works in the school’s department of strategic planning partners for success and is one of the authors of the reports, said the data is collected in part to see if grant money the school receives for programs is effective.

“The survey was conducted for about five years,” he said. “When people have friends, who drink they tend to follow or vice versa.”

There are many examples on campus.

“I used to drink a lot my freshman year,” a senior Wesley student said. She used to go out three or four times a week. “I just wanted to feel like I was fitting in.”

She had her first sip of alcohol when she was a junior in high school.

“I didn’t really go out much until I got to college,” she said. “I wanted to change my image.”

There was a point in the semester where she started to slip on her grades, she said.

“I started to fail two classes, but I began to stay in more and would study. By the end of my first semester, I finished with three A’s and two B’s.”

She said she believes if she kept drinking, she would have had to repeat the semester and go through the classes all over again.

Another student said she doesn’t think of herself as a heavy drinker, but drinks a lot on the weekends.

The Wesley sophomore was a two-season athlete in high school but now said she feels like she doesn’t have time for sports.

“College has been a new experience, when I lived at home I never drank and smoked,” she said.

Since college, her roommate offered her a bottle of Malibu rum and it just took off from there.

“I began making more friends and different connections with people,” she said. “It was a great time, I felt like a whole different person.”

The sophomore said she now feels pressure when the weekends come.

“My friends and I always drink on Fridays and Saturdays but recently I have been feeling pressured to drink because finals are coming up,” she said. “I want to do good.”