Commentary

# Divorce and death lead to increased drug use

To the Editor:

This week, as in November of last year, we are confronted with statistics of Oberlin's drug problem at our dining tables. These little blue cards state that five times more Oberlin students use hard drugs on a weekly basis than do students in other schools. Editor, I think I have a solution: we need a divorced and widowed student support group on campus.

In studying this survey for a statistics class last semester, I noted a few useful facts about the sample population. Five students are widowed, two divorced and five had a spouse with drug or alcohol problems. Among the students reporting daily ("30 times or more in the last month") drug use of "sedatives," "opiates," "inhalants," " steroids" and "other illegal drugs" three were almost always male, one female and one it (did not report or know its sex).

This seemed serious. I then called the organization that put out this survey. When I first explained the situation to Joe (I'll call him Joe), he thought that it was quite possible that five students use one drug that often. Since he wasn't too big on common sense, I then asked about the survey techniques. It turns out that Oberlin used a different survey with different sampling and follow-up procedures. Instead of a simple random sample, Residential Coordinators gave the survey during a house meeting. One student tells me that she was afraid they could be tracked back to the students, "it was a joke," she said. There were additional questions: "do you use X? and how many times in the last month?" etc.

A little confused about all this fancy statistics stuff, I decided to redo the hypotheses tests (66 students is about one-percent of the sampling group) discarding all the observation "30 or more times" and leaving in everything up to "25 to 30 times." Neglecting cigarettes and marijuana, Oberlin is either on target with or "significantly" below the proportions of students from other schools doing the same drug.

Obviously, marital causes seem to be at the core of the drug problem.

- Chris Mann (College junior)