College is the first chance for most teens to receive a bit of independence. Students adjust to a new environment and meet new people. They participate in activities and must balance school studies. Therefore, stress builds. As a result, individuals often use alcohol and drugs on college campuses.
Although drug misuse has always been common on college campuses, the kinds of drugs involved have changed. It’s important to understand college drug abuse statistics and to uncover places where students can turn to for help. At Phoenix Rising Recovery, we provide treatment to individuals who have become trapped within the cycle of substance addiction.
College Drug Abuse Statistics
To clarify, drug abuse does not just include illegal substances. Frequently, prescription drugs and alcohol may be abused as well. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 54.9 percent of college students claim to have consumed alcohol in the last month. This brings negative consequences to many students. For example, 97,000 students report alcohol-related sexual assaults. Also, approximately one-quarter of college students who drink report some type of negative academic consequences, including failing or missing classes.
The National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health explains that 37 percent of college students use illegal drugs on a regular basis. Specifically, opioids, stimulants, and barbiturates are common on college campuses.
Causes of Substance Abuse on College Campuses
After becoming aware of college drug abuse statistics, it is important to learn the reasons behind addiction. In fact, students take various drugs to deal with certain life problems.
- Stress. Although college should be a fun time in a teen’s life, it comes with a number of pressures. For example, a student must succeed in the classroom and maintain relationships. Indeed, many students must study hard, complete a number of assignments, participate in sports and other extracurricular activities, and hold part-time jobs. These demands lead teens to use drugs and alcohol as coping mechanisms. However, these substances lead to more problems.
- Peer Pressure. In reality, students who enter college are just beginning to familiarize themselves with life. Although they want to enjoy their freedoms, they still thrive on being part of a crowd. Indeed, if a teen surrounds himself or herself with people who use drugs or alcohol, this individual is likely to use as well.
- Social Angst. Above all, most college students experience social anxiety when they are trying to fit into a new atmosphere. Some teens are quite reserved. In order to calm nerves, drugs and alcohol are used. In fact, many people feel that drinking and taking certain drugs brings out the “fun side” of the individual. By and large, it only makes things worse.
- Experimentation. In certain cases, college students use their newfound freedom to experiment with drugs and alcohol. They want to experience the positive feelings that come from using. However, it leads to problems. Unfortunately, it may lead to addiction.
Drugs Commonly Found on College Campuses
Altogether, there are hundreds of drugs that exist on college campuses. However, there are a few that are the most popular.
Cocaine Use in College
Markedly, cocaine use in college has been on the rise. In fact, many students use cocaine as their drug of choice. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, approximately 1.5 million Americans use cocaine. In 2014, one report showed 4.4 percent of college students use cocaine regularly.
Indeed, cocaine accounts for over 500,000 emergency cases in hospitals around the country. Since it is often consumed in large doses and through various methods, toxic amounts are absorbed into the body. This often leads to a fast heart rate, paranoia, and seizures. When drugs or alcohol are added to the mix, the risks are increased. Fatal results may follow.
Dangers of Cocaine Use
To explain, teens often underestimate the addictiveness of cocaine. They believe that a line or two is no problem. Unfortunately, this drug has powerful effects on a person’s brain. In fact, the brain adapts so that a person develops a tolerance. In other words, with frequent use, it takes more cocaine to achieve the same high. A user takes more and more, which brings negative psychological and physical effects. Since the brain constantly craves the drug, it becomes difficult to quit the habit. For this reason, relapse is likely without treatment.
Marijuana Use in College
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University has reported an increase in marijuana use at colleges. In fact, it was documented that marijuana use among college students increased 7.1 percent between 2013 and 2018. Certainly, this rate continues to rise. In fact, a shocking amount of college students claim that they use marijuana daily. Some sources report that marijuana use has hit a 35-year high among the college population.
As previously mentioned, stress and anxiety are two big reasons behind drug misuse in colleges. With this in mind, the accompanying pressure of exams and tuition bills makes students turn to marijuana. This drug brings feelings of calmness. Unfortunately, it brings a number of problems as well.
- Impaired short-term memory
- Decreases motor skills
- Poor decision making
- Weight gain
Prescription Drug Abuse in College Students
In reality, college students believe that prescription drugs are safe. Even though they are medically approved, they can still be dangerous. If used properly, these medicines can be very beneficial. However, if they are not taken for medical conditions, they may bring some serious negative health effects. For example, Adderall is just one medication involved with prescription drug abuse in college students.
Adderall is a stimulant that influences the central nervous system. It is prescribed to lower hyperactivity and to heighten a person’s attention span. In fact, it is used to treat conditions like ADHD. In a college setting, students begin abusing this kind of drug to gain greater focus on their studies. However, when Adderall is combined with alcohol, results may be fatal.
How Drugs and Alcohol Contribute to College Suicides
According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, drugs and alcohol are the leading causes of suicide in colleges. In fact, approximately 1,100 teens commit suicide in college campuses each year. Overall, students who misuse drugs and alcohol are more likely to experience certain situations that lead to suicidal tendencies.
- Low self-esteem
- Isolation from friends
- Family estrangement
- Poor grades
Also, using drugs and alcohol causes impulsive behavior and decreased inhibitions.
Preventing Substance Misuse in College
Even though drugs on college campuses are prevalent, there are ways to prevent misuse. A number of universities take measures to help students avoid risks for developing substance misuse disorders. In fact, many institutions offer substance abuse prevention programs, which focus on maintaining positive physical and mental health. In particular, colleges encourage students to take part in certain activities so that they do not turn to drugs or alcohol.
- Become involved in clubs and other on-campus events
- Befriend people who do not use drugs or alcohol
- Join campus sports team
- Avoid fraternities and sororities that are known to encourage drugs and alcohol
Resources for College Students with Substance Misuse Disorders
There are a number of resources for college students who are battling drugs or alcohol problems. Indeed, it is wise to speak with a medical professional at the campus’s health center. Also, it is recommended to consider on-campus mental health counseling. At most universities, counseling is free. This helps a person deal with underlying issues that are causing substance abuse behavior. Local chapter support groups are available as well. For example, it is possible to attend an AA meeting. In severe instances, it is possible to call a drug abuse hotline. In fact, this costs nothing and is confidential. Representatives offer guidance and explain further treatment options.
Expert Help at Phoenix Rising Recovery
At Phoenix Rising Recovery, we help individuals around Palm Desert who need assistance with drug or alcohol misuse disorders. At our facility, we have a comfortable environment where an individual can undergo detox and receive treatment with certified therapists.
Overall, drugs on college campuses are big problems for students. In fact, many students are hesitant about seeking help. After all, many individuals believe that getting treatment for addiction pushes back their graduation dates. However, the success rate for long-term recovery is increased with early intervention.
At Phoenix Rising Recovery, we offer both inpatient and outpatient treatment options. We discuss the best course of action for patients and provide tools that help them overcome substance misuse disorders. For the most part, we help people get on with their lives so that they can pursue the career of their dreams while maintaining sobriety. If you have a loved one who is in college and wants assistance with addiction, contact us today.