Pills Spilling

"High Functioning" Drug Culture in University

University is a time where many people begin to have more independence, as well as responsibility and with this comes stress. Many people often choose to deal with this stress through the use of substances such as alcohol or other drugs in order to help them function on a day to day basis. Study drugs such as Adderall are widely used on campuses to help people complete assignments or study for exams. On the Queen’s campus specifically, it is widely known that the use of cocaine is prevalent amongst the student community. With the legalization of weed, many people may use it to help them sleep after a stress-filled day.

Corona ChairBeing a Health Studies student, I am in a seminar this year on harm reduction, and in this class we discuss in depth about people who use injection drugs. It is known within health spheres that the wider Kingston community has been impacted by the opioid crisis. In the Queen’s community, it is not uncommon to hear judgements passed about people who use drugs among non-Queen’s members of the Kingston community. Even the use of the word “townie” creates an idea of an “us vs them” dichotomy in regards to people in the Kingston community who are not part of the Queen’s community. 

In regards to drug use within the Queen’s community as well as the wider Kingston community, it is interesting to me how there is a separation between what kind of drug use is “acceptable” and what drug use is “unacceptable”. The reason why drug use often gets labelled as acceptable or unacceptable basically boils down to the idea that as Queen’s students we are able to still be “functioning members of society” whereas people who use drugs outside of this are seen as unable to function. For example, someone who is a student could be using a study drug every day during exams in order to help them focus, which is seen as “acceptable” by other students. However, if someone is using a drug such as heroin to help them handle everyday life, it is not seen as “acceptable” by the community. I want to bring this up to draw a comparison that in both cases, drugs are being used in order to help the person deal with things that are going on in their lives. Just because one drug is seen as more “acceptable” does not mean in reality that we as Queen’s students are above others who also use drugs.

Kristen Bryant-Colorful Medicine JumbleIt is important for us as Queen’s students and members of the Kingston community to remind ourselves not to place judgements on people we may see within the community who may be using drugs. Commenting on them by saying things such as “crackhead” stigmatizes these groups and further creates marginalization. It is important to check your privilege and realize that people who use drugs that are seen as “unacceptable” are still people too, and we should work as Queen’s students not to invalidate them.