Drug use in College Students

Drug use in College Students

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College can be a transforming experience for any individual. There are an unlimited amount of opportunities to grow and each day will bring a new adventure. No matter the degree you’re studying or where you chose to go, college can be a place where many create a sense of belonging for themselves and even decide on a clearer path in life. But above all, college is where many will experience a true sense of independence and a realization that they are able to make choices without close family influence. Unfortunately, some of those decisions have led to an increase in drug use in college.

Why is drug use in college so popular?

The combination of experiencing such an exciting transition into adulthood and then doing so without parental supervision can lead to negative consequences.[1] This new sense of independence often drives an individual to participate in risky behavior, which may include experimenting with drugs. So why does trying drugs suddenly have an appeal once in college? It’s been shown that the increased rates of drug use in college can be tied to three main reasons[1]:


College can come with a whirlwind of stressors. Students are expected to balance coursework, part-time jobs, internships, and social obligations on top of many other demanding tasks. They may turn to drugs as an outlet for stress relief.

Academic Performance

It’s not a secret that college can have high expectations from its students, sometimes expecting a dozen things at once. Drugs become tempting in the hopes they will help you perform at a higher level.


With all of the brand-new changes happening in a student’s life, they’re constantly finding themselves in new situations and want to explore everything that’s available to them. Unfortunately, when it comes to trying drugs, there’s no exception.

What drugs are being misused?

A recent study was conducted to see what specific drugs were being used and by how many students.[2] When asked about alcohol and the frequency in which they drank, 32.4% of students admitted they had binged drank in the past two weeks (binge drinking means having 5 or more drinks in a row). Another 40.8% revealed they had been intoxicated at some point in the last month. The reason alcohol may be such a popular choice for college students is that it is more publicly accepted than other intoxicants and in some cases, even strongly encouraged by peers.[1] Even as socially accepted as it may be, binge drinking can have a detrimental impact on a student’s academic performance and should be taken very seriously.

But besides alcohol, there are many other drugs that are found among campuses and college students.[3] A compiled list shares what those drugs are and the statistics in how often they’re used[2][4][5]:

  1. Marijuana (daily use) – 4.9%
  2. Adderall (past year) – 9.9%
  3. Ecstasy/ Rave Scene – 12.7%
  4. Cocaine – 5.1%

What are the consequences of using drugs in college?

Using drugs, especially through college, can have a lasting effect and lead to a lifetime of consequences. The results from a study done to gauge the negative effects, due solely, to drug use reveal that 262 students were asked about specific events they experienced while high or intoxicated, and the results are troubling.[4]

Below are a few examples from the survey to show what students have experienced while using drugs. All participants confirmed that the negative consequences occurred because of their drug use:

  • 45% admitted they had done something that led them to feel guilty or ashamed
  • 44% said they had skipped completing homework or even studying for a test
  • 43% shared they felt physically bad while high or intoxicated
  • 28% confessed they had ended up taking drugs in larger amounts than originally planned and continued taking drugs, in general, for a longer period of time than they expected
  • 25% agreed that they tended to lose interest in activities or hobbies they previously loved, while 16% even ended up losing a close friend
  • 22% stated they had been physically hurt and 15% admitted they had actually hurt someone else

Besides the statistics above, what is more concerning, is during that survey, 65% of the students interviewed also revealed, they still enjoyed using drugs, all consequences considered.

Even if you feel your drug use or drinking habits haven’t negatively impacted your life yet, experimenting with drugs in college can quickly turn into something more dangerous. If someone uses drugs on a daily basis, their body may build up a tolerance to that substance.[6] If this occurs, the individual may continue to increase their intake amount or possibly, move on to a harsher substance, in order to get a stronger reaction.

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How can I get help?

Anyone can suffer from alcohol or drug addiction, but more importantly, anyone can get help. Here at Ocean Hills Recovery, we offer many options to help you beat this addiction, once and for all. At our center, we offer the following options to assist with recovery:

  • Detox
  • Inpatient residential treatment
  • Intervention services
  • Dual diagnosis
  • PHP
  • 12- step recovery

Not every option may be for you, but there is always something for everyone. If you are struggling with drug addiction or binge drinking and don’t want to fight this battle alone, please contact our center for more information and recovery options.

We are ready to help, please contact us right away and we’ll start the road to recovery, together.



[1] https://vocal.media/education/effect-of-drugs-on-college-students

[2] https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/infographics/drug-alcohol-use-in-college-age-adults-in-2016

[3] https://www.collegemagazine.com/the-toll-cocaine-takes-on-college-students-and-beyond/

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3005618/

[5] http://cls.umd.edu/docs/Cocaine.pdf

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3856915/

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