The Loyola student body met on March 6 through March 13, 2017, to take a survey created by the Freedom from Chemical Dependency (FCD) organization, an international organization that focuses on providing students with an understanding of alcohol and drug risks. The survey asked questions to students about the use of marijuana, alcohol, vape products and various other drugs.
Principal Frank Kozakowski said, “I trust metrics of the survey, and they have ways of throwing out surveys that aren’t taken seriously. It was time to do it again in order to show us areas of concern.”
The survey results were put through 25 checks for inconsistent answers, and 89% of the students gave valid responses. The survey was last taken about 10 years ago, and since then new drugs, like nicotine vape products, have become popular.
Dean of Men Dan Annarelli said, “Students don’t typically drink and drive nor do drugs and drive, and it doesn’t look like students are attracted to hard drugs like cocaine, heroin, amphetamines, prescription drugs or opioids like oxycontin, vicodin and percocet.”
However, vape products, alcohol and marijuana were among top three drugs used by Loyola students.
“I was really surprised about the popularity of vaping. I knew it was there, but the convenience and lack of understanding of how bad nicotine is amazed me,” said Kozakowski.
“What surprised me was that 35 percent of the senior class last year said they had vaped,” Annarelli said.
Within the results, there is a high discrepancy between perception and reality. Many students believe that their peers drink and do drugs, when in reality, not many do. Eighty-one percent of 9th graders said that they don’t typically drink alcohol, while 82 percent of 9th graders believed that their peers typically do drink. Eighty percent of 10th graders thought that their classmates have used marijuana in the last year, while in reality only 13 percent of 10th graders said that they have used marijuana in the last year.
Seventy-one percent of students at Loyola said that they do not drink or have had a drink once or twice a year. Only 14 percent of students said that it is cool to get drunk, while 35 percent of students think that their classmates think that it’s cool to get drunk. Twenty-five percent of the senior class thought that it’s cool to get drunk, but 50 percent thought their classmates thought it’s cool to get drunk.
Annarelli said, “Within the upperclassmen, about 200 students said they drank alcohol in the last 30 days. That is one-third of the upperclassmen, which is troubling, but also probably accurate.”
Underclassmen use marijuana at a lesser rate than the national average, while upperclassmen use marijuana at a higher rate by a couple percentage points than the national average. Seventy-seven percent of Loyola students have never used marijuana, but that number is smaller when looking at juniors and seniors.
Although the majority of students does not abuse drugs, there is a small percent of students deemed high-risk users.
“About 5 percent of students, all of whom are upperclassmen, fit in a category of high-risk users. These are guys who drink and use drugs at a rate that is labeled by medical professionals as risky behavior and that have consequences,” said Annarelli.
This group is small and heavily outweighed by the people who have never used drugs.
Annarelli said, “I think that there are a high number of students at Loyola who are very interested in socializing and going to parties that are very aware of the fact that high school students will drink, smoke, or occasionally push boundaries and look for ways to be around their peers that is not legal, and I don’t think every student who socializes at a party is getting drunk or high.”
After distributing and analyzing the results with the administration, Loyola rolled out the results to the parents.
Kozakowski said, “I was so pleased with the results from the parent community. The turnout was outstanding, and they were open to the message.”
The results were showed to the freshmen while they were in theology class and the seniors in Magis.
Kozakowski said, “The survey affirms what we knew: the majority of students are not using and abusing. There are a number of fun things to do that don’t involve using drugs and alcohol. Students no longer should feel like they are the odd ball out if they don’t drink.”
The survey also prompted the emphasis on Cura Personalis, a way in which the administration mentors students on any problems they see in their classmates, ranging from drug or alcohol abuse to eating disorders or depression. With the existing Cura Personalis program, the administration added the STOPit app.
“The app is independent of the survey but it’s an evolution of student notification for Cura Personalis. It seemed like it was good to roll those together to roll out the information but we would have rolled out the STOPit app whether we did the survey or not,” said Kozakowski.
The Cura Personalis idea focuses on therapy and healing rather than discipline.
Kozakowski said, “The goal is to not kick people out of school but to help them become healthier.”