Is your loved one about to head off to college? Perhaps they’ve been there for a few years, and you’re noticing that their grades have started to slip and their social circle has dramatically changed. Well, college is a tricky time for almost every young adult, and quite often it happens to be the time that a lot of these students start to not only experiment but abuse different substances.
Here’s a list of the Top 5 Drugs that are most abused on a college campus:
1. Adderall and Prescription Drug Abuse
Adderall and its “cousin” Ritalin are stimulants that are prescribed for the treatment of ADD and ADHD in the US, and it’s commonly referred to as a “study drug” on campuses. Students use and even abuse drugs like Adderall in order to focus more and work harder under their stressful workload. Many students become dependent on these substances in order to focus and finish their workload, which ultimately robs many of them of integrating healthy work habits into their lifestyle. Adderall use on a college campus isn’t just limited to the classroom, and quite often this prescription is used recreationally as a stimulant for a student to party harder on the weekends. In fact, more than 60% of Adderall abuse is found between the ages of 18-25, and even though the number of prescriptions has dropped over the past couple of years, the number of emergency room visits have risen.
2. Alcohol & Heavy Drinking
It’s no surprise that alcohol made our top 5 list. Binge drinking on college campuses has seemed to become a norm. Ironically, the group most likely to be binge drinking on campus are those ranging in age from 18-21. There are a ton of ways to try and justify the alcohol misuse in this age group, but the most common contributing factors are:
- Social anxiety
- Peer pressure
- An exertion of their new found “freedom” away from home
- An urge to experiment
- An overwhelming desire to “let loose” on the weekends.
There are more reasons that college students drink heavily, and there are many cases where these students are using alcohol to self-medicate for trauma, abuse, depression, and stress. There are mainly two types of drinkers on campus, the “weekend warrior” and the “daily drinker.” Unfortunately, the “weekend warrior” often becomes a “daily drinker” by simply pushing the boundaries that they’ve established with themselves. They’ll start to drink after class to “wind down” and “relax” and even start to bring their weekend party into the weekdays. This class of individuals evolves into either a “problem drinker” or an alcoholic if they don’t break the cycle. The “problem drinkers” are those who seem to have severe consequences most times that they take a drink, and the alcoholic is the one who has lost the ability to control their drinking.
3. Smoking / Ingesting Pot & Marijuana
Nationally speaking, pot use among college students is at an all-time high. The drug has a social appeal, a cultural appeal, and even an appeal due to its relaxing properties. Smoking weed with friends at parties, and even in student housing, is incredibly common amongst the colligate population. The detriments of smoking marijuana at this age include, but aren’t limited to, adverse effects on the prefrontal cortex, debilitating one’s lack of drive and work ethic, and reduced efforts in self-care. Smoking pot becomes a significant concern particularly when it becomes a daily habit because a student sets themselves up for psychological dependence, and diminishes their chance of excelling past their required work-load. Their social circle starts to enclose on itself, and the daily user typically only spends time with other daily users, which harms a students ability in networking on campus to nurture relationships that could potentially help them in their future careers.
4. Ecstasy / MDMA (Molly) Consumption
When partying “harder” and “longer” become a priority for a student, drugs like ecstasy and MDMA become relevant. These drugs provide a user with a sense of euphoria and allow many people to “let loose” in a party environment. These drugs have been known to damage the brain, by over flooding, and draining the nervous system of serotonin and dopamine. Users often feel depleted for days or even weeks after excessive use, and often ecstasy users drift into a state of depression, which then leads to further use of the drugs to feel “good” once again. A lot of college students use drugs like these to improve the way they interact with the opposite sex, and it also allows them a shortcut to a euphoric party experience.
5. Pain Pills & Prescription Opiates
With the pain pill epidemic in full swing, it’s no surprise that prescription painkillers made our list. Prescription pain pill abuse has been increasingly on the rise, especially with those in the age range of 18-25. These pills are incredibly addictive, and often times those who have become addicted turn to street opiates like heroin in order to get “their fix” once the prescription has ran out. College students turn to pain pills to relax further, experiment and even treat a sports injury. There is an extraordinary number of cases where a student has a sports injury, gets addicted to the pain pills, and then turns to harder drugs like heroin and morphine.
It’s important to mention that college is a transformative time in every young adult’s life. It can be their first time living away from home, their first time establishing relationships in a new social circle, their first time being introduced to the vast information that college campuses provide, and even their first time being put under a stressful workload. Anyone of these contributing factors, and even any combination of them forces an individual into a change in identity; the problem is when drugs and or alcohol become the coping mechanisms for these common conditions on campuses.
As a parent, we urge you to keep your eye out and to continue to inform yourself about what to do when there is a problem. Simply continue to be in the loop, and continue to educate yourself on the solutions for addiction, mental / physical health, and trauma. Each one of these things can be detrimental to the future endeavors of your loved one, and it’s essential to be equipped and ready when the time comes.