Substance Abuse in College

college student

During college, people experience many new and exciting things. However, it is not always so wonderful. It’s where students learn how to deal with stress in class, party and yes, even do drugs and alcohol. Because of this, a lot of students become more susceptible to substance abuse over time.

Why Do Students in College Turn to Drugs and Alcohol Abuse?

Truth is there are a number of reasons why addiction happens so frequently in college students. Here are a few:

  • Stress is number one – we are all taught differently on how to cope with certain situations, but unfortunately for others, coping mechanisms can be lack-luster. In college, a lot of students who are facing high demands of their coursework, internships, part-time jobs, and even social life can become stressful for them to deal with. Because of this, a lot of students turn to drugs or alcohol in order to cope.
  • Catastrophic curiosity – college is the time when a lot of young adults learn to experiment on drugs and alcohol. Exploring new aspects of their lives can eventually lead to substance abuse. Some may be lucky enough to move past their curiosity and back to their normal lives after one incident, but not a lot can truly say that they avoid it. And if they are in too deep with addiction, it could lead to lethal consequences. Overdoses are a huge problem in the college environment.
  • Demands of the course load – some students take studying on a whole other level and in order to pass, they often take prescribed drugs like Adderall which helps them to stay awake longer and focus better while studying. Most of the time, these students are able to access such drugs through those who previously have an Adderall prescription. Course load and scholarly demands can be overwhelming for some students, leading them to addictive behaviors like this.
  • Peer pressure – Peer pressure is everywhere, unfortunately, but nowhere is it more prominent than in college. The party lifestyle is a cornerstone of college life and most people live by that.

Their Drugs Of Choice

Drug and alcohol experimentation is known to happen in most college students’ lives. With that in mind, you may be asking “What substances are being abused in college?” Here are some of the commonly abused substances in college life:

  • Alcohol – perhaps the most popular substance abused, alcohol is one of the few substances that can be acquired legally by any college student that is 21 or older. As long as you have a “valid ID”, you could get as much alcohol as you want. Because drinking is considered socially acceptable in college, it is sometimes hard to determine if students have an alcohol addiction or not.
  • Adderall – as previously mentioned, the drug Adderall is becoming a commonly abused substance in college. Adderall is a stimulant that helps in keeping the brain ‘awake’ and focused. Students have started to abuse this ADHD medication to study better.
  • Ecstasy – is another commonly abused drug by many college students. Although this drug first gained its notoriety in the 90s, it has made a come back in recent years; known as ‘Molly’ or MDMA. This drug is often used at parties.
  • Marijuana – is perhaps one of the most commonly abused substances by college students. It even outweighs the popularity of alcohol and is often abused by many people on campus, especially if the college is in a state where marijuana use is legal.

Effects of Alcohol on Students

Aside from the illicit substances we’ve discussed, alcohol is the most dangerous and popular drug abused in college. Perhaps to some, drinking is just synonymous with college life and what it has to offer. This is because most house parties, sports games, and student-led events will have alcohol. Because of this, more and more students consume more alcohol frequently than those who are not in college. In fact, recent studies show that four out of five college students consume alcohol and often go on binge drinking. Drinking excessively is often a major health concern to students and a major concern to parents/family. This is because long-term alcohol consumption could not only lead to health problems but could also result in life and death situations, assaults, arrest, injury and even death.

Statistics show that:

  • More than 97,000 students on campuses between ages 18-24 are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or rape.
  • 150,000 or more students have developed health issues related to alcohol.
  • About 1,825 college students die each year due to accidents or have injuries related to alcohol.

It is also a well-known fact that a lot of sororities and fraternities have drinking and drug abuse within their walls, even though they offer a family-like environment to members. About 26% of students who are in the Greek system are most likely to binge drink as well as abuse prescription drugs.

Eating Disorders Due to Diet Pills Abuse

Adderall is not the only drug being abused in college, in fact, diet pills rank second as the most abused drugs by many college students. 25% of college students have been reported to struggle with eating disorders, both in men and women. Not only is this a health concern but also something that could eventually lead to death.

How Can You Stay Sober While in College?

It is a challenge to a lot of students to stay away from the peer and social pressures of college, but there are plenty of ways to stay away from it so you don’t fall victim to substance abuse. Here’s how:

  1. Be involved in clubs or other organizations that will help you become more productive and stay sober. It could be sports teams or community groups that help develop your passions rather than your addiction.
  2. Stay away from parties where you know drugs and alcohol are easy to access. If you are to attend a party, make sure to go home early. Be aware that you have other priorities that go before drinking and partying.
  3. If you can, live off-campus. There are plenty of apartments that you can live in away from school. It is always best to separate your campus life and private life. Living on campus only increases your chances of developing an addiction.
  4. Make sure to participate in other school activities that do not involve alcohol or drugs. Be a volunteer to different programs or play sports that you find interesting.
  5. Find other ways to de-stress. This could be doing exercises and meditation. Make sure to make healthier options and take care of yourself. Eat healthily and get lots of sleep whenever you can because college life can be stressful.

Final Thoughts

Yes, college can be tough, but if you give in to the peer pressures and influence of those students who abuse substances, then you are just wasting your time and money. Keep in mind that student loans for college are no joke, some people are still paying their loans even after they have graduated. While you are in college, always make the right decisions. Drugs and alcohol addiction can be avoided, all you have to do is stop and think about your future. We all know what drugs and alcohol can do to us, so be careful. Don’t give in, be smart and work for your future.