Causes of Substance Abuse in College Students
For many people, college is their first opportunity to live an independent life. However, this transition to a new phase of life with new responsibilities can be stressful. Many students struggle with balancing the responsibilities that present themselves on the college level. As a substance abuse treatment center in Pompano, we’re aware of the difficulties as well as the temptation to experiment with drugs and alcohol in college. But why does this happen? We’re laying out the causes of substance abuse in college students and why it’s so common in this phase of life.
What Are the Causes of Substance Abuse in College Students?
College is the first place or phase of life in which students begin experimenting with drinking and drug use. According to the combined data from the 2011 to 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 6 percent of the 9 million full-time college students in the United States tried alcohol, illicit drugs, marijuana, hallucinogens, cocaine, illicit stimulants, methamphetamine, and heroin for the first time.1 Students between the ages of 18 and 24 are at a high risk of developing addictions due to certain contributing factors that are most present during college. There are several common problems for college students that often cause them to turn to drugs and alcohol in an attempt to make their social and academic lives smoother.
Some common causes of substance abuse in college include:
- Stress: In college, students face the high demands of schoolwork, part-time or full-time jobs, internships, maintaining a social life, and more. Many struggle to balance all of these responsibilities, and when they don’t, they feel overwhelmed. As a result, they may turn to drugs or alcohol to “relax” and cope with their stress.
- Academic workload: Adderall abuse in college students is more common now than ever. Many college students take stimulants to help them focus on difficult coursework and help them stay on track. But what many don’t know is that these drugs can cause addiction and other adverse side effects that can lead to various health problems.
- Curiosity: For many students, they consider college the time in their lives during which they should explore as many personal and professional realms as possible. It’s not uncommon for this journey of self-discovery to lead to experimenting with substance abuse. Peer pressure: Students who are surrounded by other students who abuse drugs and alcohol may feel pressured to use them as well to fit in.
There are a few of the problems on college campuses that many students face. If you’re battling with drug or alcohol abuse, get help immediately. At Banyan Pompano, our doors are open to anyone who’s struggling with substance abuse. Our partial hospitalization program can help college students ages 18 and older continue getting their degrees while recovering from addiction.
Sororities, Fraternities, and Drinking
Although sororities and fraternities claim to offer a positive and family-like environment, drinking and drug abuse are a big part of Greek life on college campuses. A recent study found that nearly half of people who were once residential fraternity members had symptoms of alcohol use disorder (AUD) by the age of 35. The study also concluded that living in a fraternity or sorority is linked to chronic binge drinking and marijuana use. Researchers in this study found that men and women who lived in fraternities for even a semester had higher rates of binge drinking during and after college than those who did not. Specifically, 45 percent of males who were residential fraternity members reported symptoms of AUD, compared to the 32.7 percent who were non-residential and the 30.4 percent who were not involved in fraternities.2
For women, symptoms of AUD were also more prevalent among those who were residential sorority members compared to those who were not. 26.4 percent of women who were residential sorority members showed AUD symptoms during and after college, compared to the 19.1 percent who were non-residential and the 18 percent who were not involved in sororities.2
Alcohol is a dangerous substance that can have many physical and psychological repercussions. The consequences of alcohol abuse are often severe. We understand that heavy drinking is common amongst college students, putting them at a higher risk of developing an addiction. Those who are struggling with alcoholism can come to our rehab center to receive comprehensive alcohol addiction treatment.
Mental Illness As a Contributing Factor
Mental illness in college students is very common, and many attempt to mask or cope with their symptoms by drinking and using drugs. For some students, balancing the responsibilities of college life is too much to handle. Depression, eating disorders, anxiety, and peer pressure can pile up and make them feel like there’s no way out. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students.3 This is often tied to an untreated mental illness, the most common of those being depression. Many college students also turn to drugs and alcohol to not only cope with stress but also to cope with symptoms of a mental disorder.
Commonly Abused Drugs on College Campuses
Although many people associate college with alcohol or weed, several different substances are commonly abused on college campuses.
Substances that are commonly abused by college students include:
- Prescription drugs (stimulants, depressants, and narcotics)
- Over-the-counter drugs
Many students also engage in polysubstance abuse, in which they combine different drugs or take them with alcohol. This increases their chances of alcohol poisoning, seizures, coma, addiction, and overdose.
Adverse Effects of Substance Abuse In College Students
Many people think binge drinking or heavy drinking in college is normal. Others even consider it a rite of passage. There are various famous portrayals of drinking and drug use in sororities and fraternities that glorify substance abuse and make it seem fun or normal. Many students believe they can stop whenever they want, and they can stay sober. Unfortunately, drug and alcohol abuse cause changes in the brain and body that can make it difficult to quit. Even slight experimentation with substance use in college can lead to permanent problems and should be avoided at all costs.
Some common side effects of abusing drugs or alcohol in college include:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Mental illness
- Liver and kidney disease
- Organ damage
- Relationship problems
- Inhibited academic performance
There are a few of the many physical and psychological problems that can result from using drugs and binge drinking in college. Substance abuse is not cool and it’s not fun, no matter what anyone says.