How Prevalent is Substance Abuse Among College Students in the United States?

College students are among the largest population who engage in substance abuse. This incidence is becoming more prevalent as these students enter the early stages of adulthood. Social factors such as peer pressure and feeling of belongingness are huge influencing factors for the abuse of these substances.

In a population of 12.4 million college students ages 18 to 22, thirty-three percent of them are engaged in binge drinking while 1 out 5 students have used illicit substances in the previous month.

Another survey was conducted among college students to check the prevalence of substance abuse. It showed that 37 percent experienced using illicit substances. Approximately 25 to 33 percent have used marijuana in the previous year while 16 percent have used it last month. In order to address this issue, a combination of strategies must be formulated considering the various factors comprising this situation.

What Pushes College Students to Abuse Substances?

There are several reasons why college students turn to drug abuse and alcohol use. Below are the top four reasons why these students engage in such unhealthy behaviors.

  1. Peer Pressure and Belongingness

The fear of being rejected drives students to do what is being done by the people around them. The mentality of “everyone is doing it, so why can’t I do it as well” comes in. This factor is associated with social acceptance and curiosity. Social acceptance is a big deal for college students in this period. It is not universally true, that what is being practiced by the general population is morally upright. Likewise, the presence of fraternities and sororities raises this pressure to a higher level.

  1. Availability of Substances

The supply of prescription, over-the-counter, and illicit substances are becoming more accessible for college students which increases the risk of being misused and abused.

  1. Academic Pressure

The amount of academic work involved as well as the pressure of doing well can be too much for a student, not to mention that some have part-time jobs in order to have extra cash for daily expenses. These situations may push college students to take stimulants to have that extra drive to finish all tasks.

  1. Curiosity

College is also the time for exploring things and taking drugs is one of them. Students are curious about the feeling of using substances such as marijuana, ecstasy, cocaine, and others. Likewise, this curiosity is highly associated with peer pressure.

What Are the Common Substances Abused by College Students?

In college, students see drug abuse as a common thing to be experienced by the majority. If you did not experience it, then something is wrong with you. However, this mindset is definitely wrong and needs to be changed.

This population has several preferences. Below are the commonly abused substances among college students.

  1. Alcohol
  2. Marijuana
  3. Study Drugs such as Adderall and Ritalin
  4. Ecstasy
  5. Tobacco
  6. Cocaine

What Are the Common Consequences of Substance Abuse Among College Students?

Having too much of anything always results in negative consequences. The severity of these consequences is dependent on the amount of substance being abused and how long it has been done. To have a better insight into the detrimental effects of substance abuse, below are some of its common consequences.

Common Consequences of Substance Abuse:

  1. Doing embarrassing and silly things
  2. Feeling ashamed and guilty
  3. Missing out some assignments and not being able to study for exams
  4. Feeling bad about what is done to one’s body
  5. Excessive spending
  6. Intentionally skipping classes with peers
  7. Higher risk of impulsive behaviors

How Fraternities and Sororities Influence the Risk of Substance Abuse in College?

Fraternities and sororities both have positive and negative effects on college students. Its main positive impact is to provide a support group that will foster academic performance and social acceptance.

Despite these benefits, several cases have also shown that membership contributes to the abuse of substances and alcoholism. While there are house rules within each group, if the present leadership promotes this unhealthy behavior then members have a higher risk of substance abuse.

What Are Some Risk Factors for Substance Abuse among College Students?

The progression of substance use disorder among college students is attributed to different factors. Self-education about these risk factors plays a big role in preventing the development of this disorder. Below are some of the common risk factors for substance abuse.

Risk Factors

for Substance Abuse

  • The low economic or financial status of the family
  • Huge family size
  • Family problems and broken relationships
  • Having friends with a substance use disorder

Where do College Students get the Supply of these Substances?

The accessibility of these substances contributes greatly to the risk of addiction among college students. Likewise, suppliers have taken innovative ways of reaching out to students who want these products and are doing more for students to become their consumers. Here are some of the common ways where students get the supply of these drugs.

  • Pharmacy and Medical Stores:

    Students with prescription drugs such as Adderall and Ritalin readily get supply from legit pharmacies and medical stores. Likewise, equivalent over-the-counter drugs are a good alternative if the student has no prescription.

  • Online:

    Various online social media platforms have become a new hub for the selling of illicit substances. True, there are internet security features which help track these transactions but people are also getting smarter in formulating new cues or symbols in their transactions.

  • Dormitories, Fraternity, and Sorority Houses:

    Today, this has been a rampant avenue for the buy-and-sell of illicit substances among college students. This can be attributed to the unsuspicious image portrayed by these houses. Likewise, there is very little security and inspection among students going in and out of the premises.

  • Drug Dealer:

    These are the traditional drug dealers found in bars, alleys, and streets. Students will contact the dealer and they will agree on the time and venue to do the transaction.