College is an exciting time in a young person’s life, but it can also be a stressful time, especially as students learn to juggle the demands of school, work and social time. As part of the process, college students are also given more freedom and have the opportunity to explore their surroundings. For some, this can mean experimenting with drugs or alcohol.
According to a USA Today report, nearly 50 percent of college students admit to binge drinking or using drugs once a month. Another survey from Harvard School of Public Health found that 98 percent of colleges students who use marijuana also use other illicit drugs.
Why College Students Use Drugs
The most common reasons why college students use drugs and alcohol are:
- Stress: Some college students have a hard time balancing their coursework, part-time jobs and time with friends. To cope, they may use drugs or alcohol.
- Curiosity: Students may see their peers using drugs and alcohol and become curious to try new things, too.
- Peer Pressure: Peer pressure can exist at all ages, not just high school. College students may still feel pressured into trying things because their friends are.
- Preparation for Exams: Some students use stimulants or other “study drugs” to prepare for exams and be more focused and productive.
Which Drugs are Most Common Among College Students
College students get their drugs and alcohol from all types of sources including friends, their workplace, their parent’s medicine or liquor cabinet, over the internet, through OTC drug purchases or from their physician.
The most common drugs used by the college student population are:
- Alcohol: Drinking is popular on almost all college campuses because it’s easy to get, and older students can purchase it legally and distribute it to younger students. Students drink to reduce social anxiety, to reduce stress and to fit in at college.
- Marijuana: Students use marijuana for similar reasons as alcohol. It makes them feel relaxed and lowers their social anxiety. Also, marijuana is inexpensive and typically easy to find.
- Prescription Amphetamines: One of the most widely abused prescription amphetamines is Adderall, which is used to treat ADHD. Some students use the drug to stay awake longer and be more productive. However, without a doctor’s prescription, stimulants can lead to addiction.
- OTC Drugs: OTC drugs (Nyquil, Tylenol Cold, and Triaminic DM) are easy to obtain and generally inexpensive. They’re also legal and can be bought at pharmacies or grocery stores. Abusing OTC drugs can lead to health problems and be a gateway to other illicit drugs.
Whether you’re a parent, a friend of a college student or a college student yourself, it’s important to recognize the signs of addiction. Just because a drug is legal or easy to obtain does not make it safe. With intervention, it’s possible to break the cycle and lead the rest of your life clean and sober.