For many students, college is the first time they’re away from their families for an extended period of time. Many of these students will be exposed to alcohol and drugs during their first year of school. Some students may experiment and then leave substance use behind. However, many young adults experiment with drugs and alcohol only to end up with a full blown addiction.
Most studies find that alcohol is the most commonly abused substance on a college campus. However, marijuana is not far behind. This study on college drug use found that more than 20% of students surveyed admitted to illegal drug use sometime in the month prior to being surveyed. They also found that 40% of students surveyed said they had consumed an excessive amount of alcohol sometime within the previous two weeks.
More and more U.S. college campuses have seen a rise in prescription drug abuse, a trend which has echoed around the country. This article discusses the toll of prescription painkiller abuse. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2009, more than 28,000 deaths were caused by accidental overdose from both legal and illegal drugs. Half of those deaths were caused by prescription drugs. For every death due to prescription drug use, there are approximately 32 emergency room visits. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), one in four college students use prescription drugs illegally and full-time college students ages 18 to 22 are twice as likely to use stimulants for non-medical reasons compared to 18 to 22 year-olds who are not in college.
Many college students view getting drunk or using drugs as a “rite of passage”. However, many students may start using a substance casually only to realize that they have an addiction to that substance. Regardless of the rates of use, many people are not able to leave their excessive drug and alcohol use in college. Not everyone comes out unscathed when they abuse drugs and alcohol.