In addition to campus alcohol and marijuana abuse, schools are now dealing with an old scourge: The use of heroin by students.

Cory Weinberg if Inside Higher Ed files this report:

Officials at the University of Rochester are discussing a problem that rarely reaches the agendas of campus medical centers or presidents: How do you identify and treat students who are addicted to heroin?

Last month’s death of freshman Juliette Richard, which her father attributed to a heroin overdose, led President Joel Seligman to issue a “special plea” to students to “please get help” despite campus and national surveys that show less than 1 percent of students use the drug. The college is starting to consider substance-free housing on campus, though administrators have just started to focus on the issue.

“Frankly, there was not a lot of discussion about hard drug use before last month because our surveying data suggested it’s at very low level and we didn’t have any kind of event that drew our attention to it,” said Ralph A. Manchester, director of the Rochester’s department of health service. “The problem is, there’s not been a great deal of research done on what kinds of programs work for college students who use drugs like heroin.”

Like most campuses, Rochester has been focused mostly on abuse of alcohol, marijuana and prescription drugs. Now, colleges located in cities with new, well-documented heroin scourges are starting to realize they have a lot of catching up to do. In the Rochester region, heroin overdoses increased fivefold in three years.

After Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin devoted his entire annual address to the “full-blow heroin crisis” in the state, the University of Vermont’s campus health center is staring down a “paradigm shift,” said Jon Porter, director for the Center for Health and Wellbeing.

…At Yale University, Michael Rigsby, the campus medical director, emailed the student body this month that “several recent incidents have raised our concern that use of drugs such as LSD, cocaine, and heroin is on the rise among college students, fueled in part by a mistaken belief that occasional use is really not that dangerous.”

College students who become addicted to prescribed drugs like oxycodone sometimes turn to heroin, a cheaper alternative with a similarly intense high. Colleges struggle to respond to that pattern because most are stretched to their limits responding to alcohol and marijuana issues, Reff said.