By Loribeth Reynolds

College can be full of tough decisions, like whether to wear pajamas to class, choosing homework over Netflix, or sleeping instead of partying. The time spent in college is easily some of the best times of a person’s life. However, some students have a different experience.

Many students have a hard time making these tough decisions and go down the wrong path. According to, no one is “immune” to drug or alcohol abuse. The site attributes social pressure, availability to drugs, and alcohol use. They suggest that students seek counseling if they find themselves on this path.

Hutchinson Community College students have access to free counseling services inside Parker Student Union. The sign on the door reads, “Student Success Center,” and all counselors are willing to help.

“Counseling services are free to all HCC students for substance abuse, or personal issues,” said Mike Shirkey, college counselor. “If the issue is really serious, for example, if they need in-patient services, we will refer them to an addictive services agency here in town.”

Shirkey said from time to time they see students in their office because they were caught with drugs or alcohol in their dorms or elsewhere on campus.

“A part of disciplinary proceedings for those students is to come in for counseling,” he said. “So that we can do an assessment to see if we think they have a real problem, or if they are just being young and crazy. I would assume that marijuana is the most common drug used by students, but they need to remember what seems like fun could have serious consequences down the road.”

Not only has marijuana use been on the increase among college students but so has the use of certain hallucinogens, like the “magic mushroom,” according to

A part of the appeal to some college students with these drugs is that they are grown from the Earth, or more natural, than chemical-based drugs. Even though these drugs are plants, Shirkey has some advice for students who think these drugs are safe.

“Lots of things are natural,” he said.

“That doesn’t mean they are good for you. There are natural plants that are poisonous; I wouldn’t put them in my body. Using these types of drugs can cause us to make poor decisions, and what seems like a fun party could end up as a tragic event.”

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