The Princeton Review has awarded BYU the No. 1 spot in the stone-cold sober category for 16 years straight. But BYU may have other problems. A recent study by the nonprofit Trust for America’s Health reported that Utah has more drug-induced deaths than deaths by motor vehicle accident and currently has the eighth highest drug overdose mortality rate in the United States.
Prescription medicine abuse has increased in recent years, according to the Office of National Drug Control. The latest national survey found that more than 70 percent of people who illegally used prescription medicine got it from a relative or friend and that Utah is consistently ranked as one of the top states for prescription drug abuse.
“Pharm parties or pill parties are becoming an alarming new trend around the country,” wrote Michelle Thompson in a recent CWR Partners press release. “Teens bring prescription pills that they find around their home, put them in a large bowl and consume like candy or dissolve them into a punch bowl, add liquid and drink.”
BYU is also affected. “I had a couple guys get kicked off my floor at the start of the year for smoking pot in their dorm room,” said Dakota Williams, who was a resident assistant last year at Helaman Halls.
Another former RA in Helaman Halls, Justin Dyer, recounted a story involving the police. A resident, in order to hide his stash, broke into an empty room to better conceal it.
These are not anomalies. Lt. Arnold Lemmon, of the University Police, said several drug-related cases occur each year at BYU.
The Honor Code Office website states, “In cases where a student has been arrested and/or charged with criminal misconduct, the university may take immediate action, including, but not limited to, placing a hold on registration, future re-admission and/or graduation, probation, suspension, or dismissal, or may elect not to take any action at all.”
Besides the swift response BYU supports through the Honor Code, other solutions have arisen. Local governments host Prescription Take Back events. The Utah County Substance Misuse and Abuse Reduction Team Coalition and the Utah County Department of Alcohol and Drug Prevention and Treatments are hosting a Prescription Take Back event Sept. 27. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., certain locations have been set up as drop-off points for prescription drugs. For more information, including drop-off locations, please see UseOnlyAsDirected.org or call 801-851-7181.
Companies like CWR Partners are distributing products to help combat drug abuse. One, called the Pill Terminator, is a plastic bottle that can be filled with pills and water. It renders the pills useless due to a compound on the inside layer of the container.
“Almost 4 billion prescriptions are filled annually,” said Mosche Doman of Combined Distributors, Inc., creator of the Pill Terminator. “Unused pills are a ticking time bomb, one that you don’t want in your house.”
Parents are encouraged to destroy unused or leftover pills. The Pill Terminator can be found online at places such as Amazon.com.
BYU students are required to sign and agree to the Honor Code. Lt. Lemmon asks students to “report any instances directly to the police” if they see, hear, or smell anything suspicious.