Substance Abuse in College Students

The idea of going to college conjures up ideas of study sessions, making new friends, and building a bright future through education. Unfortunately, for many young people, it can also mean dabbling in drugs and alcohol. When this turns into addiction, lives can be sidetracked and educational goals put aside. Substance abuse in college students causes problems for many families, but treatment can help get the person back on track and healthy again.

What Is Substance Abuse?

Substance abuse is classified as a medical illness involving repeatedly consuming substances including drugs and alcohol. The drugs can include prescription or illegal drugs. Substance abuse affects a person’s brain and causes them to become reliant on drugs or alcohol. Addiction creates disruptions in the person’s private, work, school, and social lives. Substance abuse in college students commonly occurs, requiring the person to receive professional treatment in order to overcome it.  

Why Does Substance Abuse in College Students Happen?

The use of drugs such as marijuana, stimulants, and illegal drugs has increased on college campuses over the past decade. In fact, a study that monitored college students from their freshman to junior years found that nearly half of them met the criteria for having at least one substance use disorder.  

Any number of reasons can contribute to a young person developing a substance use disorder in college. For those who leave home to attend school, the freedom of living independently can invite experimentation. They lack the life experience and maturity to understand the downside of using alcohol and drugs, particularly in excessive amounts. 

For many college students, pressure to do well in school factors into the problem. Pressure can come from parents, fellow students, teachers, teammates, and themselves. Abusing substances can alleviate stressful or depressed feelings. Many students use stimulants to provide a boost of energy and a need for less sleep, which they feel helps them succeed in their school work. 

Peer pressure can also contribute to substance abuse in college students. Alcohol, in particular, flows freely on college campuses. Parties and dorms can provide easy access to substances and tremendous pressure to use them. Drug and alcohol usage also happens commonly in fraternities and sororities.

The Risks of Abusing Substances in College

Many young people who abuse substances may argue that they can handle it. However, being under the influence can cause them to miss signs that their lives are spinning out of control. In addition, they may be in denial about needing help. A major risk that comes with substance abuse in college students relates to school performance. Students who engage in regular substance use prove more likely to get lower grades. 

They also tend to miss class more often and spend less time studying. In addition, students struggling with addiction are less likely to graduate or find jobs after leaving school. They also are expelled from school more often than those who do not engage in regular substance use. 

Another risk relates to the person’s health. This can include short-term damage, such as frequent hangovers. As well, it can contribute to a general decline in physical health and long-term damage. Addiction can damage a person’s immune system and organs and puts them at risk of overdosing. Good mental health can also decline when a person becomes addicted. In fact, about half of those who have a substance use disorder also have at least one mental health disorder. 

Common Substances College Students Abuse

Substance abuse in college students can involve alcohol and any number of drugs. This includes prescription, over-the-counter, and illegal narcotics. Commonly abused substances include:

  • Alcohol
  • Cocaine 
  • Methamphetamines
  • Marijuana
  • Pain killers
  • Prescription opioids
  • Inhalants
  • Hallucinogens, including MDMA (ecstasy) and LSD
  • Stimulants

How To Treat Substance Abuse in College Students

A student who reaches the point where they need treatment for substance abuse has options. The first step involves going to detox. This process takes five to ten days on average. From there, the individual may choose a residential or an outpatient program. 

For many students, returning to their homes, including a campus location, may need to be delayed temporarily. For them, a sober living home can make the most sense. Sober living homes are often located in modern, attractive houses in great neighborhoods. Many of these homes are gender-specific and pet-friendly

College students can seek treatment during the day while living at the home. This provides them with the vital addiction care they need while giving them a safe place to live. Sober living homes remove easy access to substances and potentially triggering situations. Each person living there is in recovery, making peer support part of the treatment. When they are in stable recovery, they can transition back to school, ready to accomplish their goals with a sober mind.

Get Help for Addiction in College Students 

Do you have a son or daughter who needs help getting off drugs or alcohol? Creekside Recovery Residences has a program that helps treat substance abuse in college students. We provide safe sober living homes for your child to live in while they work on getting well. Each resident can access outpatient addiction treatment for substance use disorders while living in a safe environment free from temptation.
For more information, visit our admissions page. We can answer any questions you have about how to help college students get sober and graduate.

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