Addiction and Drug Abuse Among College Students


Going to college is among the most exciting times in a person’s life. For many college students, it is their first time away from home. It also gives people who have remained relatively sheltered for most of their life the chance to experience more freedom.

This freedom offers them a chance to learn and grow. However, college is also where many students try drugs and develop addictions.

Substance use has always been incredibly common on some campuses. Young people who fall prey to addiction during these important formative years may develop mental and physical health problems if their drug use is left unchecked.

To prevent this problem from spiraling out of control and affecting their academic performance, students should turn to drug rehab. Arizona is home to many rehab centers that help college students struggling with addiction.

Let’s take a look at why addiction and drug abuse are so prevalent among college students.

Why Are Students Attracted to Drugs? 

Drug use is frequent among college students for a variety of reasons. Some of these young adults actively seek out substances to experience a new thrill. Others may use them to cope with physical or mental ailments.

Many students are also peer pressured into trying drugs at parties and social gatherings. Some may find that their social experiences are enhanced after taking them.

What Drugs Do College Students Consume?

Some drugs popular with college students include:

  • Marijuana (used by 37.2% of students)
  • Prescription stimulants (25.7%)
  • Prescription analgesics (19.9%)
  • Cocaine (14.1%)
  • Ecstasy (10.7%)

Alcohol isn’t included in the above list; however, many would still consider it to be a hard drug due to its addictive qualities and the damage it can do to your health. Around 55% of college students report drinking alcohol in the recent past.

Let’s take a look at each drug in the aforementioned list and why they are abused.


Marijuana (or cannabis) is one of the most popular drugs used by college students. This drug can be smoked or vaporized in its raw form. Its active ingredients can also be extracted and ingested.

Consuming this drug produces a mind-altering effect that can be pleasurable and relaxing. This drug also has many therapeutic qualities that can relieve symptoms of chronic pain.

However, frequent marijuana use can result in dependence. Studies have found that approximately 9% of marijuana users become dependent.

Users who develop a dependence report withdrawal symptoms when they attempt to stop using the drug. These include irritability, sleep difficulties, reduced appetite, and restlessness.

Prescription stimulants

Prescription stimulants are drugs that are typically prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Some common prescription stimulants include dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine), a combination of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine (Adderall), and methylphenidate (Ritalin).

These drugs typically come in tablet, capsule, or liquid form. People prescribed these substances may abuse them by taking more than their prescribed amount or by consuming them in non-conventional ways (i.e: snorting or smoking the powder). Consuming these drugs produces euphoria, along with heavier breathing, decreased blood flow, and a higher heart rate.

Many students who have not been prescribed these drugs take stimulants to boost their alertness when they are studying. However, taking these substances for reasons other than treating ADHD can lead to addiction, heart problems, or even psychosis.

People who are dependent on this drug experience withdrawal symptoms when they attempt to quit. These include fatigue, depression, and insomnia.

It’s also possible to overdose on prescribed stimulants. Consuming an excessive quantity of these substances can lead to a heart attack or a seizure.

Prescription analgesics

Prescription analgesics are opioids or pain relievers that are prescribed for treating pain. Some common prescription analgesics include hydrocodone (Vicodin), oxycodone (OxyContin), morphine (Kadian), and codeine.

College students take these drugs recreationally to enhance their experience at parties and social gatherings. In addition to providing pain relief, these substances produce a “high” that is appealing to young people.

These drugs are considered very dangerous because overdosing on them can be deadly. They are incredibly addictive, and people often experience severe withdrawal symptoms for weeks when they attempt to stop using them. Students addicted to prescription analgesics should seek out the best drug rehab clinic in their area if they are ready to quit.


Cocaine is another stimulant that produces euphoria and alertness. This drug stimulates high levels of dopamine, which produces pleasurable effects. Many students take cocaine due to the confidence and excitement the effects produce.

This drug is both physically and psychologically addictive. People who consume it frequently will soon become dependent on it if they wish to feel “normal”. Quitting cocaine can be a challenge because the withdrawal symptoms often last for weeks.

These symptoms include depression, fatigue, increased appetite, and restlessness.


Ecstasy is a common recreational drug that goes by many other names such as MDMA and Molly. College students often take this substance because it produces euphoria and feelings of happiness and well-being.

Many studies have found that ecstasy can be addictive. Once users stop taking this drug, it can produce psychological withdrawal symptoms such as fatigue, depression, and anxiety.

Why College Students Should Turn to Rehab Programs

While drug use among college students has declined over the years, drug abuse and addiction remain large problems on college campuses.

It’s not uncommon for students to get addicted to a drug after trying it a few times. This addiction could eventually spiral out of control and affect their academic performance.

Even if you feel you are in control of your addiction, there is always the risk of overdosing or developing health problems from long-term drug use.

Long-term drug users often develop cognitive problems that affect their memory, concentration, and attention. These can have a severe impact on their academic performance, so students should attempt to purge themselves of any drug addictions they may have.

However, quitting drugs can be a challenging process. Even the most determined quitters will experience withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms are often severe and can last for weeks.

Due to this reason, it’s important to quit drugs under the supervision of a medical professional. If you are interested in joining a program for drug rehab, Scottsdale has many rehab facilities that could make the process easier and safer.