College substance abuse is a common issue across university and college campuses due to binge drinking, prescription drug abuse, and recreational drug use. College students are more susceptible to addiction because of the pressure to fit in with their peers, do well in school, and discover their identities.
Go to any university campus, and it won’t take long to come across some college substance abuse, whether it’s alcohol or drugs. Young people between the ages of 18 and 25 have the highest rates of alcohol and drug addiction for Americans aged 12 or older, making it more important than ever to recognize symptoms of college substance abuse.
If you suspect a friend or a loved one may be developing an alcohol or drug addiction while in college, then speaking with a substance abuse counselor or enrolling the person into a drug treatment center may be necessary. Call (855) 619-8070 if you have any questions about college substance abuse and someone at Drug Treatment Center Finder will help you right away.
“Many students come to college with established drinking habits, and the college environment can exacerbate the problem,” says NIAAA.
Several factors play into why a college student might turn to drugs and alcohol. Some of the common reasons for college substance abuse are:
It used to be that a pot of strong coffee and sheer willpower was enough to get a student through all-nighters of essay writing and exam studying. But nowadays, more college students are turning to prescription stimulants such as Adderall and Ritalin to get their work done. Most of which aren’t legitimate prescriptions.
Students feel overworked during their college years, having to balance full-time classes, part-time jobs, internships, club activities, group projects, homework assignments, social obligations, sometimes eating, and maybe three hours of sleep if they’re lucky. Drugs and alcohol help them cope with the chaos they feel in their life.
College students are exploring aspects of their identities as maturing adults and new working professionals. Drug experimentation comes with the course for some folks so they can better “discover who they are” in this period of their lives.
From giant kegs of beer at frat parties to passing joints around a circle of friends, college substance abuse is ubiquitous to students and thus increases their likelihood to try these substances themselves.
The transition from being a teenager to a legal adult can be a tumultuous period for many college students, who may also be worried what their future will bring, or if they’ll find success in their careers and relationships. For students, turning 21 is not only being allowed to drink, but also learning how to be an adult—and for many, the lesson is hard.
With hormones going crazy and “living life to the fullest” being the main priority for many young people, it’s no surprise that relationships bring out the most intense emotions, both good and bad. College substance abuse can begin during a relationship or because of one after it ends.
A phrase you might hear from college students is, “I didn’t ask for this.” Graduating college and immediately going into a full-time job, getting married, and having kids is not in everyone’s life plan. Young people struggling with the idea of “settling down” so soon in their lives may become rebellious and begin drug use to bring thrill to their lives and escape responsibility for themselves.
WAYS TO RECOGNIZE COLLEGE SUBSTANCE ABUSE
The stress of college can be overwhelming for a student. Using drugs and drinking alcohol can be a method of coping with societal pressure to get a degree and choose a career, which means that the likelihood of a young adult admitting they need help in their transition to the “real world” might be slim.
Whether it’s because of the wild partying lifestyle (a lot of college students live off the mantra: “work hard to party hard”) or a lack of awareness of the reality of college substance abuse, many students may not realize they have an addiction or are unwilling to accept it. This is why it is important for friends and loved ones to recognize symptoms of college substance abuse and start planning to intervene.
Some symptoms to look out for are:
Not attending classes or club activities
Complaining about hangovers or drug-related sickness every weekend
Suddenly missing deadlines for papers and homework
Failing tests due to partying instead of studying the night before, on several occasions
Refusing to stop drinking/doing drugs even after friends insist to stop
Sneaking alcohol into class or going to class high
Uneven sleep schedule: not sleeping at all, then sleeping all day
Acting withdrawn from college friends, more antisocial
Reckless behavior, e.g. unprotected sex, driving while drunk, starting arguments in class/work
For a more detailed list of substance abuse signs, go to our drug addiction page.
COLLEGE STUDENTS’ DRUGS OF CHOICE
While drug abuse trends among college students will invariably change with each new generation, below is a list of drugs that show popularity among college substance abuse:
Binge drinking is widely acceptable on college campuses, especially at parties and before sports events. Because of this, many young people don’t detect any personal issues with alcohol until later in life.
Since the ‘60s, marijuana has always been popular among college students and their peers. And now with more states legalizing medical and recreational use of marijuana, it could even be said marijuana use is growing more popular than alcohol consumption.
Adderall is an ADHD medication used to increase concentration and productivity, which is why many college students use this drug to help them study for exams or finish their papers, often without prescriptions.
Recent reports from NIDA revealed that despite steadily decreasing for six years, cocaine use saw a spike among college students in 2014 and continues to remain high at 4 percent.
Drug treatment centers across America are seeing more and more admissions from young people struggling with opioid addiction. Whether because of an injury or drunken curiosity, opioid abuse and college substance abuse are becoming synonymous.
HOW BINGE DRINKING CULTURE AFFECTS COLLEGE STUDENTS
Binge drinking is typically considered consuming four drinks (for women) and five drinks (for men) within a two-hour period. Most college substance abuse occurs because of binge drinking at parties, but this part of college culture can be detrimental and have severe consequences.
In a report by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, about 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor-vehicle crashes; 696,000 students report being assaulted by another student who has been drinking; and 97,000 students report experiencing alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.
College “Greek Life,” as in joining a fraternity or sorority, can play a large role in binge drinking culture, particularly because many Greek living houses are used for parties, where substances are brought and encouraged to be used. However, college students who are dealing with the stress of academics, maturation, and their self-identity may also engage in binge drinking to cope.
COLLEGE STUDENTS CAN GET ADDICTION TREATMENT – FIND OUT HOW
Many universities and college campuses have resources for college students struggling with substance abuse, so it is always advised to seek out a counselor on campus to prevent an addiction from worsening. Friends and loved ones can begin to detect how severe an addiction is for a college student based on their withdrawal symptoms, which grow more intense as their tolerance and need for the drug get higher.
To learn more about specific drug withdrawal symptoms, read our withdrawal pages.
Drug Treatment Center Finder recommends enrolling in a drug addiction treatment center, where you will be medically supervised by trained professionals. Call our 24-hour helpline at (855) 619-8070 to discuss your treatment options with one of our agents and get the substance abuse treatment that’s right for you.”