“Raise your hand if you or anybody you know vapes,” my professor asked the classroom, waning in attendance due to mid-semester weekend endeavors. Every hand shot up. Some chuckles and snickers scattered around the room.

As our professor began nagging us about e-cigarette use, I saw feet tapping, palms itching and overall frustration. Nobody really wanted to hear how unhealthy their lifestyle was at a 9 a.m. lecture. Besides, many of these kids maintain a mild smoking addiction and still manage to carry on with everyday life.

University officials and parents alike can reason why students gravitate towards vape products. They offer a pleasant aroma, unlike some other substances meant to be burned and inhaled. There isn’t anything that quite screams college like the blast of a blue raspberry fragrance hitting your nostrils during lecture.

This wide-spread consumption and use isn’t a new phenomenon, either. Vaping products have been popular since I was entering middle school and have existed before that. Beyond that, we’ve seen fad drug use define previous generations.

What is new is the variety of options offered to young people, especially in a booming college town like Oxford. What we see now more than ever is the availability of a wide range of drugs. Residential assistants don’t only have to worry about the odor of marijuana sweeping through their halls. Now, they need to pay special attention to just about everything if they want to properly do their job of promoting the safety of residents — which makes their responsibilities nearly impossible. Here are just a few prohibited items and substances that are thriving on campus.

Alcohol: Alcohol on college campuses is a tale as old as colleges themselves. By many accounts, alcohol consumption has decreased across the board over the years. This is likely due to the implementation of the 1984 National Minimum Drinking Age Act that mandated all sales of alcohol must be to individuals 21 years of age or older. Still, you will have no issue finding a can, bottle, funnel or jug in Oxford, especially during football season. Fans who frequent the Grove can attest to the beastly drinking culture here at the party in the ‘Sip.

Marijuana: Smoking weed is a rite of passage in some spaces in the student community — a classic, to the say the least. As legalization spreads through the nation, weed will only become more commonplace, too.

Tobacco: Rounding out our unholy trinity is the middle child of the bunch. Tobacco came underneath a lot of fire during the late 20th century, and rightfully so. It’s made an impressive comeback, evident by the vape usage of young people. I’ve even seen TikTok videos celebrating the use of Zyn and other tobacco chewing gums. Way to freshen up, guys.

Despite a recent Adderall drought, the drug is popular as ever among circles on campus, selling like hotcakes around exam time. With midterms creeping up, expect to see more zombified sorority girls marching back towards their houses inspired by a 20 milligram study-buddy. Other, more infamous stimulants and amphetamines appear on campus, too — usually behind a closed door during a frat rave. Don’t shoot the messenger.

Opioids still are consumed across the country, but with much notoriety gained from the national opioid crisis, they are now admittedly less visible. From what I’ve gathered, these are much harder to access now compared to a decade or so ago. While doctors are under less scrutiny when it comes to writing prescriptions, the stigma still exists and will take many years to go away.

I could go into much more detail, but that’s reserved for a later date. I didn’t even mention psychedelics, which have become a norm in some groups. This quick rundown is truly the tip of the iceberg. Hopefully, that puts things into perspective.

The point is that even though many of these substances have been around for what feels like forever, they are especially accessible to students today through a variety of means.

My advice is to steer clear of any illegal substance, and I’m not just saying that for liability concerns, either. I don’t want to sound like that nagging professor, but many substances are directly linked with feelings of anxiety and depression. Seeing that September is Depression Awareness Month, it’s important to highlight realities like that to shed a light on culprits that are not called out often enough during discussions about mental health.

Justice Rose is the Opinion editor. He is a junior journalism major from Madison, Miss.

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