college students featured
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21 July 2018,
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college students and substance abuse

 

 

Substance abuse is a common problem among college students. The changing environment can lead to many new experiences. From increased freedom to exposure to new social and academic situations, college students have a lot to deal with. It’s not uncommon for drug or alcohol use to take place during this part of a young adult’s life. Understanding what spurs this use can help concerned parents, teachers, and friends better understand risk factors that college students face.

On an Average Day in the Last Year [2]
Of roughly 9 million full-time college students…
● 2,179 drank alcohol for the first time
● 1,326 used an illicit drug for the first time
● 1.2 million drank alcohol
● 703,759 used marijuana
Of 2 million part-time college students…
● 453 drank alcohol for the first time
● 174 used an illicit drug for the first time
● 239,212 drank alcohol
● 195,020 used marijuana

Alcohol
Alcohol use often begins in college because: [3]
● Students experience a new level of freedom
● Students test their new psychological identity with peers
● Alcohol is part of the college culture
Social reinforcement contributes to alcohol use. Drinking increases when students have a lack or breakdown of quality relationships or alcohol is an integral part of the peer interaction. [3]

Marijuana
Marijuana use in college is often a continuation of use in high school. [4]
Users perceive less risk with this drug. Just 30% of those age 19-22 believe marijuana use carries a great risk of harm. [4]
In 2016, marijuana use in college reached its highest point in 30 years, with 42% of students using the drug. [4]

Cocaine
Stress increases vulnerability to drug addiction. [5] Drugs like ecstasy, heroin, and cocaine provide a high that many users find desirable. [6]
Cocaine is readily available on college campuses. By their fourth year, 36% of college students had been offered cocaine and 13% had used it. [7]

Stimulants
Stimulants are often used by college students who want to increase their academic performance and believe these drugs will help them focus. [8]
As many as 1 in 4 college students misuse prescription stimulants. [9]
Those who used prescription stimulants reported use of other substances as well. [1]

By understanding the unique threats that the college environment can present, you can better prepare yourself or others to handle the college experience safely.

Resources:
1 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3856915/
2 – https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/report_2361/ShortReport-2361.html
3 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2635065/
4 – http://home.isr.umich.edu/releases/mtf-marijuana-2017/
5 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2732004/
6 – https://collegestats.org/resources/understanding-addiction/
7 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3075599/
8 – https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/08/160808120703.htm
9 – https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/demystifying-psychiatry/201610/misuse-stimulants-college-students

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