626 responses later, the results of our first Drug Survey are in!
We conducted this survey partly as a social experiment (What would you do for a pair of passes to Igloofest?), but also because we wanted to see the extent to which McGill students—who have a bit of a reputation for being smarty-pants—are willing to go to succeed academically. While we don’t have enough responses to offer a thorough analysis of McGill’s study drug culture akin to a scientific study, the results offer a glimpse into McGill’s overall drug culture, one that flirts between pills, plants and psilocybin with impunity.
The vast majority of respondents don’t have a prescription for ADD/ADHD medication (92.6%), and the ones that do have held a prescription for more than two years (64.3%) and have used it for either academic or recreational purposes (77.6%). Y’all are givers too, with 81% having supplied another student with pills at some point. Of those who elected to tell us how they’ve used their ADD/ADHD medication, almost all of you cited some academic purpose (89.2%), and less than half cited recreational purposes (43.8%), among other reasons like pooping and dealing with last night’s hangover.
Unsurprisingly, McGill (and perhaps by extension, Montreal), is on everything that has a name. Of the more than half (376) that listed their recreational substances, almost all of you smoke a bowl (97.6%) or casually pop MDMA (57.2%), and just because we couldn’t really do an exhaustive list, 55 of you gave us your own descriptive lists prompting some very curious Googling, including: mushrooms (which came up 37 times), LSD, PCP, salvia, speed, opium, steroids, bath salts, mescaline, kratom, Valium, and peyote.
Even more interesting is how McGill students view the efficacy of ADD/ADHD medication, with more than half (52%) unsure of how the drugs treat this condition. One commenter noted, “I think that they’re effective, but that the disease is over-diagnosed and therefore there’s no ethical problem with taking them without a prescription—so many people are already on them without having ADD.” The jury is out on this one, and our collective knowledge of mental health is cursory at best, so we’re as much in the dark as the “real world,” i.e. adults with jobs and stuff.
We wouldn’t care about these results without some kind of social framing, and of course, this is only one interpretation, so allow me to indulge for a moment. The McGill undergraduate community is largely composed of students that floated academically through high school and got As on the regular. Even if academic work under the influence of study drugs toes a libertarian line bordering on the dishonest, the realities facing a McGill student—which are a far cry from other universities—demand some firm self-evaluation and decision-making.
Where else could you find such a depressingly underfunded university crumbling under the weight of aging building infrastructure, an over-worked mental health service and a disgruntled, smart-ass student populace, in one of the most culturally #relevant and consistently frigid places on the planet? If you’re even remotely involved in student life, it isn’t hard to imagine or even find high-functioning drug addicts sitting next to you in lecture or standing next to you at the bus stop. They’re not the seedy underbelly of society, and are certainly no less capable—prescription or otherwise—than any other able-bodied non-user. Besides, everyone gets through their day differently, so don’t be rude about it because it’s kinda none of your business, y’know?
Dispelling the stigma around casual drug use and encouraging responsible consumption is pretty much where we’re at now, right? White lies to cover white lines aren’t conducive to the kind of conversations we should be having about staying safe and having your shit together. As the stellar Rez Project shows, keeping your friends in the loop about where your head is at is the best way to take care of yourself and others. Do your part for yourself and others by keeping an eye out, and getting help where appropriate.
Stay safe and stay classy, McGill. It’s 2013, you got this.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Bull & Bear.
The McGill Student Mental Health Service offers a range of psychological and psychiatric services for McGill students. The service aims to provide a secure, non-judgmental space for students of all orientations and backgrounds. A team of psychiatrists and psychologists are available by appointment for assessment and treatment of many conditions that may interfere with psychological well-being.
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