Drug Culture at Trinity: How Does it Impact Students?

Gillian Reinhard ’20

Features Editor

“I could buy drugs about as easily as I could go and get candy from the Cave,” explained one Trinity student. The student’s comments on drug culture at Trinity were used in the senior thesis, “The Longest Walk: Rape, Drugs, and Racial Aggression at Trinity College,” by Chiarra Davis ’17. Today, the project remains one of the most thoroughly documented accounts of the College’s darker elements such as drug use.

In her work, Davis provided the anecdote of Trinity’s matriculation ceremony for the current senior class in September of 2016. Following the ceremony, two students were transported to Hartford Hospital for illegal substance abuse.

As Davis’ work explains, marijuana remains Trinity’s most popular drug. Another student interview in the thesis project explained, “I could get drugs [specifically, marijuana] at 2 p.m. on a Monday or 3 a.m. on a Thursday, and I would never even have to leave my dorm room.” 

Trinity Health Center Alcohol and Other Drug Specialist Pamela Mulready commented on drug use at the College, providing the Tripod with information and resources available to Trinity students. As Mulready noted, “America is in the midst of an opioid overdose crisis.” As she explained, drug poisoning is the most common cause of unintentional death in the United States, even more so than in a car accident. Additionally, as Mulready pointed out, 1 in 20 college students nationally have used cocaine within any 30-day period during 2018.

Mulready provided information concerning the increasing amount of fentanyl in relation to drug overdoses found mixed in with drugs in Connecticut, such as cocaine. “In 2019, 85% of fatalities involving cocaine also involved fentanyl,” explained Mulready, citing the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office, “The amount of fentanyl that would be a lethal dose for an average adult would fit on Lincoln’s beard on a penny.”

Fetanyl can also be found in counterfeit pills, such as Xanax. Mulready stressed the importance of avoiding prescription drug abuse, particularly in conjunction with alcohol. “Any pill that is not prescribed to you is potentially dangerous.”

In the past few years, Trinity has made significant strides in supporting students through substance abuse. Mulready highlighted the importance of narcan (naloxone), which works to remove drugs off brain receptions to allow a victim’s central nervous system to return to its normal state in an emergency. The Trinity Medical Amnesty Policy allows a student experiencing physical or mental crisis due to substances with the opportunity to not be subject to disciplinary action. 

“The Counseling Center is a great resource for students who are struggling with substances,” Mulready said. She also emphasized off-campus treatment providers, available to pursue while also managing a full course load of classes. Additionally, she spoke of the Self-Management and Recovery Training  (SMART) Recovery peer support group, offered each Wednesday night at 6 p.m. SMART also offers a meeting each Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. for those with a loved one struggling with substance abuse. 

The Trinity College Health Center aims to continue its mission of making knowledge about narcan, as well as the Trinity Medical Amnesty Policy, more available to all students so they are aware of what to do in a drug-related emergency.  Additionally, Mulready offers one-hour workshops, with a meal provided, on using narcan effectively to anyone interested.

Students and other members of the community looking for further information on narcan and drug abuse as well as resources for those struggling, or with loved ones struggling, are encouraged to contact pamela.mulready@hhchealth.org.


Brendan W. Clark '21 is the current Editor-in-Chief of the Trinity Tripod, Trinity College's student newspaper.

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